tv Russian Transnational Criminal Organizations CSPAN May 30, 2018 7:27am-9:05am EDT
congress. in public policy events. around the country. brought you by your to you by your cable or satellite provider. a special prosecutor in the spanish government discussed russian international criminal organizations. he is followed by a discussion with that pro republic a reporter. it's an hour and a half. speemac it is so is so beautifully distributed. welcome everybody to hudson institute. i will start again. welcome to hudson institute.
an executive director of the initiative here. and were extremely honored to be hosting who has come especially from spain to visit us. for a couple of days for this event here. in various other things going on in town. he is really an example of what can be done. i don't want to say more about him by way of introduction. he will speak about what he has done and what is going on in spain. in terms of the work that they are doing. i don't want color that in any way shape or form. i would like of course to say just very brief word about the initiative and how this fits into where we are now it's
been almost exactly four years since we started this effort here. the issue was helping make people more aware of the problem. in the export was something that was over there who was a problem that was generally recognized in the community. that has changed. our emphasis became what what can we do about this policy wise. as many of you know there is a lot going on. but all laws will need a law enforcement. bolted domestically and internationally. end of the threat of transnational criminal organizations in the way they mesh themselves with
consider it to be an honor first of all it's wonderful to be here in washington and at this institute. since i arrived here we had been cooperating with u.s. institution for quite a while. the fbi which is here in dc. a large part of my presentation and what i want to think about today. has to do with and how spanish officials have been investigating at the grassroots. in other words.
the officers and agents had been concerned and they realize there was a problem that came from the years in russia in the fall. that they were optimistic they thought they were being free from oppression from the soviet union. and they went from this real poverty the russian people have incredible intellectual richness and we see this
through the effective date. and of course then there is a series of people who are brazen and had no shame this is certainly not a complement. i would like to avoid insults. these are a series of people you are involved in the political world and in the criminal world and they are seizing all kinds of assets in their country. they are taking on power in that manner. it leads to that problem in
russia. and the leader of that we see at the have of this problem in spain. i have no idea i was talk about the national police. they are the ones together with the national intelligence agency will begin to be concerned. a great deal of money was coming in we need to have some filter and control over that. we were trying to take preventive measures before we
get hurt it was only way that it turned out effective. maybe better anyways. i have to say our police were really ahead of the curve in this if we look at analysis of the hypocrisy those who had political and economic power not just russia it was also to take her investigation on people who are high-level criminals and those people who
organizations we have seen that in spain. though they are demanding that they take on these investigations. it's importanto talk about our perience. as i come on behalf of the anticorruption office of the prosecutor i appreciate this. it's true i'm not formally representing the prosecutor's office but i do feel proud to represent that area. i'm to take a few minutes now to talk about the anticorruption policies that they have. what is it to penalize crime.
against corruption and organized crime. it was new in spain. it led to the convention under the un. they talk about the corruption so this is nothing new. nothing ahead of the curve to say that the crime is constant and ongoing. and we need to attack it in a cord needed manner. that's why we have these two international instruments. surviving -- surprising.
founded in 1995. in a. in spain we have gone from a dictatorship it doesn't mean that we can have better leaders. there was a moment they realize that new politicians are also corrupt. but the big difference to 1976. there is no fight against corruption. the powers of my office are national powers. there are 28 in madrid.
and then we have several prosecutors who are all over the country. this is the normal result of the process. that has gone on since the founding of our new constitution. which is based on a decentralized government. our powers very powerful to fight corruption. and one in particular committed by organized crime. there's just one exception.
the specialization has allowed it to be very effective. to predicate here i am allowed to be here. i want to say something about the corruption. we have a judicial office. we have national police coming with one unit. they are undressed. they are subordinates. with the past ministry and databases we have all of the
where there is no structures to fight me that's where i'm going. if i run overtime please let me know. when i'm overtime please let me know. organized crime their aim is economic profit. this is the base of the criminal organization. if they just head that criminal organizations would be easy to get rid of a lot of money but you're a mafia boss we can get rid of you. we need to find a way to attractively insinuate themselves into society and how do they do it.
i don't know because they continue to do it. i think we can say that the first thing that they try to do is to legitimize themselves with the society almost all mafia bosses have a specific territory that they protect in in spain for example or italy those people who are most corrupt first they do two things. they have a mansion to show that they are there and secondly the name by a soccer team. i'm not saying everyone who owns a soccer team our mafia bosses it's an honorable soccer team.
the social level. they start to expand. they create foundations. they say they are philanthropists. they say they want to take care of people and be charitable they actually does see people and get them into the foundations and then they select people who are well unknown to direct these foundations. some are deceived others let themselves be deceived. they start to actually had this web that they are able to create and bring people in. and then they realize that's not enough.
at the end the police in general understands that there origin is this economic origin they need to take care of this reputation. and they need to whitewash their reputation with mon laundering and its fundamental for criminal organizations for many years. if you have incredible assets you need to enjoy it. they want to show their enjoyment. it starts to increase their
activity. they go into real rural areas. one of the examples is the pillaging of palermo. and they build what used to be said that a true king pen is build a house and buy again a soccer team. any sport it doesn't have to be soccer. they understand that the building itself and the construction is important. we see that all over the world. they need to also go further
and devote themselves to getting profit from the state. it's a second set. step. one step was to develop here. and really to build a business which is a criminal organization and that's all we have to see it as. the fight against money laundering is essential but it's not the only site. and against corruption and because this relationship between the public administration in criminal organizations that is what allows for the third block of
we have the more subtle legitimate ties in process of her organized crime. the large firm of attorney. i'm also talking about financial institutions. institutions that go against the prevention of money laundering. these people also had ties to all of these other blocks here. these are peoples who are experts in specialist. you could say they don't exist.
these are territory in which criminals can have assets which are hidden or the ownership thereof is hidden from investigators. you can call them countries that don't collaborate i like to give you an example. and this is really self criticism. spain has gibraltar. we considered it to be a non- collaborative dating territory. they use gibraltar to actually
hide their assets or the owners of assets. in the investigations we've undertaken. the first investigation. they are directly aimed at eradicating the seasonal funding. it is a lowest part of the criminal organization. in the '90s they were the ones that protected businesses under their protection. wealth was created over time. especially 2000 to 2001.
there is some season-low who have never have a tattoo and those are the ones that have bought the title of seasoned law. they indeed are legitimate ties in their activities. with regard to that. the drug trafficking in the uk. and leading the criminal organization. and the russian prosecutor asked us to transfer the file from spain to russia because we were not able to get him extradited back to spain. and we trust that the offer will continue with this investigation.
and there are people who had white washed the investigation. if russia does not investigate him will take this back up. who is a series of criminal organization they are not as vulgar as these. we have the operation in spain but the national police and civil guard. and he had contacts and these are these are all very high level businessman it was based
on a business relionship also. and we heard and read how he also have relationship with her then minister of defense. we heard him speak and also to mister rehman and other people who are not part of the administration but they are part of the power structure in russia. and as concerning. another person who we were investigating a general and russia. he was responsible for fighting drug traffic.
thankfully the prosecutors office. .. .. what you're doing is throwing stones at the russian public administration. no. indeed. and administration needs to recognize that there is corruption therein, and if that is the case they need to clean it up. in spain we had recent arrest of a former minister in spain. the one here is saying that the anticorruption prosecutor or the
civil guard that the rest of this former minister is undermining the spanish public administration. to the contrary. this is legitimizing the democracy of spain's government and administration. finally, i'd like to talk about the difficulties we have been fighting money-laundering. we have detected as i said previously that we need to legitimize at a democratic level our institutions. this is an ongoing effort. it's true that there's been some people who feel relaxed, just because they are democracy we will not have corruption. well, no, that is not the case.
democratic politicians can also be corrupted, and officials of a democratic regime can be corrupted. we have realized, for example, in one of the proceedings that we've taken forward which has to do with the corruption of a political party, we saw that they were systematically corrupt. the thesis put forward in that regard is what the civil guard thanks, what the prosecutors office thing, but we think we can prove this in court. this is another example of how that society and spanish society doesn't want to recognize that their administration is corrupt, and we think that political
party was able to lead up the cry for independence. we see horrible corruption, corruption that so money from all the taxpayers, from all our citizens. now again, they have not been effected, this political party, but this is our theory. also we have the difficulties of social perception but another difficulty we face is collaboration, cooperation. i begin by speaking about the cooperation we have with united states. we have a cooperation agreement that dates from 2010. we also have cooperation from law enforcement, civil guard, national police, the customs agency, and also we have the
police from catalonia. we have wonderful relationship with united states. we do not think we are the executing arm of the united states or anyone, just ourselves, of spain as was stated in wikileaks. some countries collaborate like the united states and others don't. we have faced serious problems in fighting organized crime with regard to the uk. they researched problems in getting them to cooperate, with the exception of drug trafficking. we see that there are still tax havens, and we have problems getting cooperation from holland and belgium. we have serious issues in fighting organized crime because of this.
and i see that as uk is reacting effectively to economic contamination, that they had suffered from oligarchs that take dirty money, money from a criminal organization. let's be clear. which is behind a business, even an important business that goes forward with legal and lucrative activity, criminal organizations are laundering money through large companies, not just through front companies, and that's why we need to be vigilant on this part. the legal financial part, that piece.
thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you again. sebastian rotella is going to say a few words. sebastian is currently with propublica and knows the judge well and is written about his cases and related subjects, and speaks spanish fluently. so he will say a few words and then ben judah is with us, and to some of you know, the uk was just criticized in ways that ben
would like to reform been working on that, and there's been some recent action in the uk and some of you know in the last ten days, a little bit of a problems to say the least. then we will have a brief discussion. it's already ten to 11. we believe plenty of time for questions in that we have such an extraordinarily distinguished audience, , and there are many familiar faces. and there are many non-familiar faces which is great. it's not the usual fan club so we're very happy to see you. welcome. sebastian? >> it's a pleasure to be here. thank you, charles, and to be aa competent honor to be here with was a consultant and talk about my perspective on district the son of american and italian immigrants spent a lot of time in spain for personal and professional reasons that i've covered organized crime and terrorism and intelligence around the world.
the last you when i got an assignment from propublica to look at russia related questions in europe, i chose spain hopefully as a place where the would be a window into this global phenomenon because i knew the language, because i knew a lot of people in law enforcement and i've been following some of these cases without going in depth. i got a chance to spend time with josé granda, people in the police, other agencies and see, or some place or some of these interesting cases that happen and, in fact, what is remarkable is that the spanish experience over the past ten, 15 years really, this body casework details a history of evolution of russian organized crime overseas, not just in spain. and it reveals in remarkable detail that these are power networks that go beyond traditional organized crime that we're talking about a boring or a blending of organized crime -- blurring in the politics and business.
i think the spanish experience as josé grinda described is really a roadmap, a model for how to fight this urgent global threat. a a couple of points of perspective that a think are interesting. one to remember the russian mafia comes in the '90s and early 2002 spain, looking for safety because of the intensity of the wars back home. investment opportunities. it was a country that was booming and construction and real estate. and as part of a global expansion. this is a global the aspirin of organized crime. in spain we should remember a prosperous, safe and civilized country, one of the lowest homicide rates in europe. and it is tough and effective law enforcement with very justice system with a lot of guarantees and prison policies so there were a lot of reasons it was attractive. as this increased you should remember this was a very small
number of starting out out in e late '90s, early 2000, talking small numbers of investigators that began this difficult fight. and having worked with law enforcement around the world, one thing i've been oppressed by by very good investigators is they are very frank when they say, they are happy to say i don't know or i am just learning, when their great experts. that was one thing that impressed me when talking to pose a granda and others have become expert on the issue that there be candid about the fact that in the beginning this was not a world they knew a lot about and they say we made a lot of mistakes and we really had to learn. what a lot of obstacles and have come a long way. because this was a different model of organized crime compared to what they were used to. spain is a cross was for drug trafficking so they don't with latin american mafias with the italian mafia. but this was an entirely different model. a lot of these people who were showing up presented themselves
as wealthy successful business men. investigators had to learn how to take on these groups, how to understand them. they had to educate their own judiciary about this, which is rather subtle. they had to prove crimes that were crimes that are happening, the money that was being lauded because of crimes that happen elsewhere. they were dealing with enemies who underwent hand were very dangerous and a great firepower but on the other practice strategic restraint so they were not meeting violent crimes in spain, many of them. these were mafias with what seemed to be unlimited resources with some of the best lawyers and financial advisors that spain could offer. and they had difficulties with, as much as josé talked about somebody cooperation, what's clear is that difficulties with russians and some of these other countries where the eurasian
mafias came from as trustworthy parkas. they begin to understand the dimensions of these groups that ranged from armies of burglars at the lowest level operating throughout europe, , to people s you heard who had direct partnerships with people at the cabinet level in russia. worldwide money-laundering networks. and i think what josé grinda and the others did were pioneers in cooperation both in spain which was at this early easy if you followed spanish law enforcement. enforcement. there were times when those divisions among the other agencies and hosea and others had to coordinate among agencies, and international cooperation. one thing they realize was they had to learn about these groups and had to work with a lot of other international partners if this fight was going to be successful. so working as you would with americans, with european law enforcement and to the extent possible with russia and other countries. and what they were worried about
was the danger of infiltration, and in spain the were some dangerous scientific use obvious mafias in the '90s and 2000 were expanding into areas like banking, business. there was a particular presence in energy sector of bona fide gangsters trying to muscle in to the energy sector. at one point which the presidential level in spain and attempt by gazprom and luke oil to move into the spanish market was blocked because the scene as a national security threat. as you heard soccer snuffling iy huge cultural phenomena but a huge business in spain, and one of the signs you could talk about this infiltration, and i know josé is a fan of real madrid so you will not be happy to talk about soccer. the chief of security, what are the most wealthy and best-known soccer teams of the world was a convicted georgian drug trafficker at a certain point in the 2000s. and the head of another soccer
team is a russian is accused of, been arrested a few months ago of money-laundering and mafia activity. they felt also inroads into politics and the police. there was some cases were corrupt spanish police officers tiptop targets of the special prosecutors office. there was a moment when the politicians convicted a couple years ago, his appointment to direct the regional police which is 16,000 officers and one of the most important and prosperous regions in the country, he was convicted of being an accomplice of the russian mafia, and the russian mafia would've had an accomplice running that catalonia regional police. so show you some of the things they were coming up against. i think spain's crackdown is amiss because it's been one of the most sustained and systematic, and they've arrested by the most important bosses, russian or eurasian mafia bosses
outside of russia, including the georgian kingpin. they have led a europewide investigations of a particularly murderers georgian mafia, which, to show you the current obstacles there up against, , wn a spanish words are executed throughout europe, in greece one of the wanted suspects in spain and georgia pace andight and thousand dollars cash bribe allegedly and manages to escape from the greek police who were e coming to rest him on behalf of the spanish. and you heard about the petrov cage which is now a trial some of those people awaiting a verdict which is in my estimation and i know there are probably experts year who know of the cases but one of the strongest most interesting cases in the western court system that details the workings and the evidence of high-level corruption in the putin regime where you have the spanish are
able to intercept phone calls not just in spain but of people as it traveled back to russia and here bona fide gangsters treating cabinet ministers as business partners and treating people like the police general you heard about as flunkies, and just the depth and the breadth and the specificity of the way that threat that combines of the different sectors of crime and intelligence and politics in business, the way it works. and there's and this also i thio finish, the spanish have taken an aggressive premise which is if there's a piece of an international organization in their territory, they follow it to the top. so some of the oligarchs who have recently been sanctioned by the united states in the past weeks are people who was a grande and others have been investigating for years. in some cases prosecuted under the cases have lease been able to question. the cases that shed light on all kinds of interesting things can some of them are former partners of paul manafort's relational is in the news these days.
me of them, one of them is under investigation, alexander, for partly under investigation for ties to the trump campaign potential illegal financing. again the spanish cases really give you, it's a wonder that you think about going beyond the spanish borders thank you she went into all kinds of international activity. not all, not all of these cases have always been successful. sometimes they start out as big operations and results have ultimately be rather meeker. but i think there's no question there been disrupted and dismantled and challenged these mafias and these larger structures in the way that is impressive. one thing i think as ironic as we know a lot about the russian market in spain precisely because there's been so much activity on this front, but i would argue if you look at europe and countries like the uk or greece or germany or maybe you're less about it, places where there's a lot of work left to do, and i think the spanish
model of cooperation is one that should be emulated. and just in closing, there's an expression i first heard, an expression used in sicily which means the armored life, which is a life that prosecutors and cops would fight, always being surrounded by bodyguards and hosting aware of both ethical threats and of the treachery and attends to pressure them into attack them. the expression especially similar, and you are in america all the time about people financing fight but that's the fight people like josé and his colleagues have chosen as think it's admirable. it's a pleasure to be on this panel with him today. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, sebastian. ben, does is bring any comments or questions to mind? >> first, i would like to thank
our guests, such a panoramic tour de force through russia and spain in really bringing to life battling the severity of the problem but the power thathese organizations now possess it i'd to make a few maybe possibly slightly more walkers comments about what could be done in the united states in order -- what policy approach is, you should urgently be pushing for in this country. when one studies the kind of chains of how these activities operate, one always finds the enormous company, one finds the legal entity or the legal entity of llc, the legal entity of the corporation stripped down to its purest form, a sheet of paper or digital and print. they are used anonymously to
cover up crime and to cover up the proceeds of crime. it's really urgent that the united states pushes to abolish the existence of anonymous companies in this country. not only should it do that, it should also make deliberately misleading incorporation agents for their equivalents when creating these anonymous companies a criminal offense. and should establish a dedicated section in for incorporation agents to make sure that is effective, compliance. because as long as you can hide your identity of somebody controlling an asset or individual link to the asset behind a cloud of anonymity it makes the work of people like jose grinda gonzalez extremely difficult, but it makes the life of the mafia kingpin extremely
easy. how does one deal with these questions of infiltration that we were discussing? well, the united states already has the foreign agents registration act, but this piece of legislation dating from the sort of, the struggle against fascism needs to be radically updated. we have been arguing here that the dg doj needs to introduce a comprehensive thorough enforcement strategy, and that congress should finally allocate sufficient resources for its implementation. guess if you want to be serious about fighting organized crime and defending national security, one needs to provide the resources to do it. it's also really essential but loopholes where lobbyists can sometimes register under different disclosure acts shoul be conlidated and that the
time frames for registration and penalties for delayed filings are enforced. we also think that it's absolutely essential when it comes to addressing these problems that the current incomplete, broken, not fit for purposes, any meaningful sense anti-money-laundering system in this country is fully modernized. the anti-money-laundering system in this country was designed in order to combat cocaine cowboys in miami in the 1980s, operating essentially with cash, and it is not set essential to do anything else to catch those people. what needs to be done, is an extension of the anti-money-laundering system away from simply focusing on banks but focusing on other high risk sectors which are not covered by anti-money-laundering requirements, such as the ones
listed by jose grinda gonzalez. real estate, the real estate industry, lawyers and other luxury industries, possibly including the soccer industry. and again we have a fundamental need for resources to be put behind these questions. something that i find spending time in washington as we have still deeply 20th century, 1956 understanding of what is a national security threat in which when the united states faces problems that could potentially come in the form of an f-15 or a tank or something, or chemical, full resources are deployed in order to counteract even the possibility of such a threat. we national security threat comes in the form of dirty money
or comes in in the pinstripe suit of a lawyer or of a lobbyist, extremely little, tactically no resources are put towards checking this threat. and we need to have more resources given to the treasury and more resources given to law enforcement in order to deal with this. there is a a deeper problem at play in the united states which spain doesn't phase, which is organized bureaucracy. when you're up over a a dozen institutions in this country with overlapping goals and agendas, duplicates staff all try to deal with financial regulations, it doesn't help you. it helps the criminal side of things.
and the he needs to be in the long-term regulatory consolidation for matters to do with organized crime and financial regulation. it may not be possible at the moment but it needs to be done. there needs to be issued policy doctrines coming from the white house, and if the white house is unable or unwilling to do so, there should be policy doctrines about how to combat autocracies and congress thesis that of the commission to outline its own strategy. looking further afield, united states needs to develop approaches where it can highlight core national security danger of organized crime to let these strategies into nato come into collaboration with the european union and embed it in diplomatic approach to countries
which are very much at risk. core long-term because i like to echo what jose grinda gonzalez said about russian crime is not about fighting the russian people. there needs to be raising awareness of kleptocracy in russia, , and one policy which u think could be very effective with the consolidating frozen assets from russian organized crime are russian kleptocracy into the sons of the people which would be clearly visible online and which could sort of sit there and tell a tiny which russia has sort of return to the rule of law. it needs to be, a needs debate extremely clear that law enforcement is working to save
on the benefit for the russian people. on a closing remark about raising awareness in russia is the importance of numbers. when you study the field or when you study how these issues are reported, there is a lack of concrete numbers. and one thing that the treasury and the relevant institutions can do is release figures about how much money they think is being stolen from russia and how much they believe this is costing the russian people to make people aware of these the gigantic costs. i would like to once again thank our panelists for coming here today. >> thank you. [applause] >> i should mention that much of which ben just described is
contained in a report that we released recently called countering russian kleptocracy which ben co-authored with nate sibley who can races and perhaps, and we need to give nate a big thanks for helping to organize this event and all sorts of related activities and logistics in terms of his visit. so thank you, nate. [applause] nate is the program manager of the kleptocracy initiative and is everything from co-authoring reports, riding up beds to organizing events and he also produces this daily brief that we put out which is a lot of trouble, and we wanted to sort stop doing it fonthmonths and me keepli us it's so useful, that nate is stuck doing it, and
a lot of the people a real actors and sort of anti-kleptocracy space put it more specifically that i should, read this. so we keep doing it and this is, nate spins a couple hours a day on that. i hope many of you may be signed up, and if not i hope -- [inaudible] >> are any of our reports out there, nate? they are all out there, okay. i should say bout counted russian kleptocracy that this isn't necessarily about russia only. it's really about countering kleptocracy in general. but we thought we'd give it a specific vivid title because it does seem to be the clear and present danger that people recognize, but it's meant to have general applicability and, of course, there's nothing at all anti-russian about it. quite to the contrary. so i think given the time, we will turn to you and take some
questions. if it's a comment, it has to be extremely brief. i'm told we can go all of it beyond 11:30 so that depends on your availability. as the audience shrinks to an embarrassing size, we will stop. so please, there will be a microphone, or multiple microphones floating around, and if you could please identify yourself by name and affiliation, we will take it from there. in the front. >> hello. my name is alexi. i'm a reporter with the russian news agency, and my question is for mr. josé gonzalez. you displayed in court some threatening messages to you and
spoke about threats. i just wanted to ask you to speak in that regard, how your life changed after this investigation began. do you need to take precautions for everyday life? what they are exactly. and the second question is, what's the level of your cooperation with the russian law enforcement and prosecutors? you mentioned that in some of the cases you're pretty sure that they will continue the investigation against some people that you've indicted, but probably in other cases it's not so. thank you. >> first of all, the threats
that when we investigate organized crime in general, people in particular like me are two types. first, honestly, smearing campaign. they have done that to me actually. and honestly, i don't care. unsupported by my agency and by the spanish government. and then a second threat is a physical threat. i can't really say what's happening because there's an investigation against those that order my killing, and i can't really talk about someone who wants to kill me. i don't want to smear him. in any case, i'm quite confident
regarding my social reputation, and i'm also quite confident regarding my personal integrity because my agency, the prosecutors office, the national police, are working hard on my, providing me with security. i really live in peace. and then regarding your second part of the question, our collaboration with the russian law enforcement. i don't know what to say. regarding, with the police itself, i don't know. and with the prosecutor's office, yes, we do have collaboration on a permanent basis but it's not homogenous. sometimes if we don't feed the prosecutor's office, they cannot chew.
[speaking spanish] >> translator: i have a question about venezuela and andorra. if this is a topic of interest for the prosecutor's office of what you are investigating this? [speaking spanish] >> translator: if i start taing abo that, i think only three peoplee left in the audience because we'll be here for five, six hours or maybe a few days even. just to the brief, because really it's such a huge topic. under, well, it's not a problem. the problem with private banks is very specific, isolated.
it had great repercussions because the banking system was fraction lies at the point is is not systemic. we have wonderful cooperation both with the police as well as the prosecutor's office at a judicial level as well as another kind of cooperation like the one we have with -- since then -- the issue of private banks in andorra is, now, venezuelans requirements on and on banks, that relationship could exist anywhere in the world. i think the private banking in andorra was not a problem that was a problem of venezuela. what is the problem of
venezuelans? i need out to talk about that. briefly, the justice system has ongoing investigations in spain with regard to venezuelans that have been stealing money from venezuela for responsible for the impoverishment of the venezuelan people. and so we are cooperating with andorra, portugal and u.s. in this sense, and we hope, and i'm not being ironic era, we hope to have the cooperation of venezuelan prosecutors. and so what are we talking about as far as stealing money is concerned? i will keep you an example. i think of the declaration of emergency situation in 2010. there were a series of contracts electric plants to generate electricity in venezuela. it's been a failure, many of the
public businesses that awarded contracts are were awarded contracts for different work are being sought after by the nice dates, , by spain and by others. we still need to prosecute those people who actually corrupted those public servants in venezuela politicians. we're taught by people in u.s. and people in venezuela although most people in venezuela came to the united states and are subject to investigation in the u.s. and they are suits him and reports against venezuelans in venezuela because they are responsible for the impoverishment of the venezuelan people. >> okay, thank you. the disheveled gentleman and ie
second row. [laughing] >> my name is glenn simpson and ira a research company here in washington. alexander torsion, i would like to know i think sebastian knows it's reported he appears to have been tipped off to his arrest warrant in spain. i want to know if any progress has been made and figure out who tipped him off, how we found out about it, whether you then put on an interpol red notice? and finally whether you shared information with the u.s. government about it and spent and is suspected criminal activity? [speaking spanish] >> translator: well, as soon as i take the floor, i think i
can answer that. alexander was happy to investigation in spain of a court in mallorca. the civil guard was conducting the investigation along with the anticorruption prosecutors office. juan correll whose anticorruption prosecutor, well, and he is in charge of the office in mallorca, and i worked with him. he was heading up the investigation and that's when investigation was successful. we investigated alexander torshin. why? because he was involved with a man who has been convicted and it seemed to us that there was criminal activity going on to the extenthat t2nd of
august, i think it was 2013, he was waiting for mr. torshin to go to the birthday in mallorca. and if torshin had arrived we would've actually detained at the airport. why? because we had a telephone conversation that was intercepted under that investigation that led as to believe that he was laundering money for a a criminal organization. well, the fbi also has linked him to others, and both talked about these two people. as if they knew him, as if they were friends. and currently he was convicted. he actually had a plea bargain
with the prosecutor's office so we didn't investigate torshin because what we had at first, which was clear evidence against him, well, when we arrested romanoff in december 2014 if i remember correctly, well, this evidence kind of discouraged him so we never issued an indictment against him nor was there an international order issued against him either. >> the gentleman over there. >> stephen blake, american foreign-policy counsel. my question is for the panel. to what degree do you see linkages or even actual both sides wearing weren't the sameh regard to organize crime and media penetration in europe?
>> well, i don't know really, but what i do know is that the media is part of the defense of the state. it's very active participation that the media has to take on and that exists in spain, that coordination of interest more than just coordination of interest of the state but rather the country, of the society. in other words, and alignment. in spain, as far as i know, there's been no infiltration of organized crime in media outlets. in europe, i do not know. i have no idea. in our investigations in spain
we have not been attacked by the media, with some a few exceptions of if i may use the word old media outlets and that is an insult by the way. so there has been specific journalists have attacked me and that's not why he is on asshole necessarily but it's because it was for money. that's why they did it, not because of my character. so when i i say that i don't k, perhaps you think i don't want to say that. no, i just really have no idea. the. >> not the usual language that is used around here.
[laughing] sebastian pictures on media point, i have cover latin america warsaw cases of journalists or even media outlets being directly instruments of the mafia one way or the other connected to drug cartels onto intelligence services, things like that. serving western western europee not seen that but there are cases in some countries where people can oligarchs are people connected to them with shady types have acquired media related businesses, and so there you start to wonder. any other thing would be to the extent that there are political parties in europe, including in countries like italy and france that have strong connections to and are sympathetic with the regime in russia and have gone as far as important political leaders in some of those countries saying things like they don't believe that the poisoning in salisbury, the countries don't do that.
they don't leave any country would like a poison somebody like that. to the extent that political leaders have media that are sympathetic to them, perhaps some relations with them are taking that line. you can see how that could start to see him. ceainly the oth thi you've seen and for example, the catalonia crisis, this isn't media, but the kind of fake news, bots, propaganda activity that is been excavated two russian connected forces in other parts of the west were certainly on display, a lot of objective analysts have said in catalonia so that is worrisome in terms of fake news trying to contribute what seems be a strategy of fomenting division and separatist movements and political conflict and chaos and i think that has been very much on display in the catalonia crisis and in bartlett of fake news which was connected partly through venezuela actually, seen as a russian venezuelan connection. just to soar to reiterate the
point i have to deal with this problem, like the first essential as transparency, need to bring as much transfers as possible in order to reveal situations like this happen in immediate and that means transparency to corporate structures. it means bringing transparency to tax of declarations. the second thing we really need is reporting requirements more requirements in order to make sure money laundering is not happening on sectors that are not covered like sort of property, like lawyers, like hedge funds, the capacity building we don't have enough people dealing with this. you have a handful of people working as bank examiners and binge of tens of thousands of people working on redundant national security issues just because that's how the bureaucratic and mercia works.
one thing didn't talk about last time is we really need legal tools. and unexplained wealth or to which places the owners on individual phone folders at ths countries or to explain what his wealth comes from. that is something we urgently need to bring here. the integration of these topics into the national security framework, international security doctrine. but finally there is this question of the fourth estates and whether, even though it may not feature a classical branch of sort of political theory when it comes to understanding a democratic system, it functions as such when we're seeing in europe and in north america online platforms which are destroying the ability of the fourth state to finance itself, destroying the building of journalists, journalism to be funded.
we need to move so that these monopoly platforms are forced, they are forced to either were numerate platforms for the content they drive their clicks from or that they pay taxes, pay higher taxes which can then be used to support journalism in the manner of the bbc or other european formats. and allowing these monopoly online platforms to operate in the way they do is bad for democracy and bad for fighting organized crime. >> any other questions? we'll get the microphone to you. >> could you identify yourself? [speaking spanish] >> translator: i was ambassador of spain to the
united states between 2001-2004. the first time i heard about prosecutor was in a book. who was a regular presence here and who we regret has died. she wrote a book which was called putin's kleptocracy, and she talked about prosecutor jose grinda, comanche hailed all of his actions taken against the russian mafia. and this book is only been
published in the united states because in the uk they didn't dare publish it. they were concerned that they would be a libel suit filed, and she said that the problem isn't that the mafia exist in russia but that the state is a mafia state and the head of that mafia organization or state is vladimir putin, so it is a criminal state, she is asserting. not just a criminal gang or one more criminal gang. do you share this analysis, what she puts forward, her thesis, do you share? >> do i i have to deal with th? okay. [speaking in native tongue] >> translator: well, there's a book in spain, it was written by
a media outlet bbc. it's a newspaper in spain. the name of the book is the word of thieves. at have to speak as a prosecuto prosecutor. in my investigations in spain i have not validated that thesis, not at all. what i said is that what we perceive is that there is a very high level of corruption in russia, here we have been fighting against that, and in part with cooperation with russian prosecutors. the rest is, well, your reading of it, believing in people. for for example, one man had tht thesis. he asserted that and he is dead
and there is an investigation in the uk. well, there were two that i i w about actually, or that existed i believe. one to see who had killed alexander litvinenko, to specific people were identified and then there was a different proceeding about the reason why these two people killed him. the british judge thought theres probable that the russian state have participated in this killing. i've always said in the meeting that i had with alexander litvinenko. i was very critical of him because i believe he was from the secret services and he had
worked with others who was in oligarch and so i thought the relationship was, well, i could not exist if is going to cooperate with spanish justice, but he did cooperate with us, and i fully trust, although this is many years later, i fully trust his words he was an honorable man. i know he wanted to collaborate with us, and he did. i don't know any kind of the cooperation might have had, but he also has a book i believe, which defends the thesis that you just asserted. and i have not detected that this thesis is true. i don't want to criticize it. i don't want to support it
because -- >> ben became famous at the age of 23 with his book about russia. you want to touch this? you don't have to. >> it's -- >> sorry about this. you don't have to. >> a slightly different thesis when it comes to russia. something that a person think is there are limits to kleptocracy paradigm and understand the motivations of russian politicians, and that a certain point of view in thinking that the russian elite motivations can uniquely be explained in terms of maximizing profits in maximizing rent only go so far and doesn't explain the full necessity they have to embark on sort of struggle and collusion with the west. i think kleptocracy very much is useful, but i think i personally
go for more pared down version of the. in the early 2000 there was very popular in academia, for obvious reasons, there was an over focus on trying to find ideology behind the putin regime. it took ideology i think much too seriously in trying to understand how the kremlin, now there hasn't been in the mainstream enough interrogation of these deceased mentalities, what they need come with a russian pastels ask him to believe about certain things and now it is publicly propagated s and pumping them in to institutions answer network institutions, from the whole secret service world, there really is a world of ragged schools and private hunting lodges and in the bureaucracy and enter the military. i think that when we talk about
russia, a comment that one receives from russian officials and myriad, myriad top of it you're talking about fragments, fragments remains of the 1990s. there is a point here which is that certainly the discussion in the media we get is an over focus on a generation of ambitious 1990s oligarchs, heavily criminalized but have the sort of western global financial ambitions. there isn't enough discussion at least other generations of rent and collective kratz which i don't have ambition on a global scale or know they will not be possible for them to achieve, or of a generation of sort of putin putin oligarchs is motivations have become a lot more blurred with a restrictive ideology but
it is still there. just bottom line which is purely kleptocratic russian elite would not have embarked on the policies that it has. over the last five or six years. you need to think of russia as a fusion of kleptocracy and ideology, and what is a very real kind of bureaucratic and oppressive mechanism, in my opinion. >> sebastian, do you want to comment or leave this one alone? >> briefly. i would have to spend, and i spent many years covering powerful mafia for the lines between them off in the state blur, take a latin american countries like mexico, countries like venezuela and guatemala which people talk about models as penetration of the state by mafias.
and italy and other places. i don't think i've covered russia long or in-depth enough to sort of a thesis like that which a journalist should assert any way unless he is written a very long article or a short book on it, or a long book. but certainly looking at this vision comparing it to others, i haven't seen in other places where covered very powerful very dangerous mafias this blurring that the spanish cases show very well of organized crime, intelligence and law enforcement services, the business world and politics. the way those things all come together in a model of eurasian mafias is remarkable and disturbing as some of the specific cases like litvinenko or others show. >> i would like to ask question to our honored guests, which is
in any of your cases have you come across any individuals linked to trump or linked people linked to trump? >> shifted gears radically. [laughing] >> no. >> no. >> all right. let me continue with this question. the official position, of course, is that we don't have one. i mean, we don't take official position of the sort, but i think the answer is we don't care. in other words, we don't care what you call it. what we are concerned with is a u.s. national security, and nothing is going to be 100%. this thesis of russian mafia state, obviously it's not, never completely true, but we do think obviously a work closely with karen that it is an interesting
explanatory what's going on, , d particularly and understanding the extent to which the st. petersburg group has increasingly increased its power withinhe russian state, that is at this point a factual descriptive one, might say. i don't think to me people including those involved would question a whole lot. they're not spending a lot of time trying to debunk that. so i think it is now almost a quarter to noon. we can and on that and thank you, ambassador thank you, ambassador very much for your question. .. [inaudible conversations]
>> and we're live this morning at the national league of cities here in washington d.c., where the organization will release its annual state of the cities report this morning. it analyzes the trends and priorities of mayors around the country, as laid out in their state of the city speeches earlier this year. this is live coverage on c-span2 and it should start in just a moment. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]