tv Russian Transnational Criminal Organizations CSPAN May 25, 2018 10:08am-11:49am EDT
today we're in wisconsin's capital city of madison. named after the fourth president james madison. it's home to oscar mayer and the university of wisconsin, about 235,000 people live there, and joining us on the c-span bus parked outside the state capitol is the lieutenant governor of that state rebecca clayfish. lieutenant governor clayfish, what are the constitutional duties of the lieutenant governor in wisconsin, and how have you and governor walker defined your job? >> inquiring minds want to know. >> i'm charles davidson, the executive director -- there we go. i'll start again. welcome to hudson institute, everyone. i'm charles davidson, the executive director of the kleptocracy initiative initiative here, and we are extremely honored to be hosting judge jose grindal gonzalez who
has come specially from spain to visit us for a couple of days with this event here and various other things going on in town. he's really an example what have can be done, and i don't want to say more about him by way of introduction because he's going to speak about what he has done and what is going on in spain in terms of the work that they are doing, so i don't want to color that in any way, shape or form. i would like, of course, to say just a very brief word about the kleptocracy initiative and how this fits into where we are now because it's been, well, almost exactly four years since we started this effort here, and -- and initiality tily it was help
in other words, the interaction with the private sector, and in our office, well, that's the structure. this setup is multi-disciplinary. it's quite complex, and so it's complex because we're fighting organized crime which is also complex, and so i would -- wanted to just make a few drawings here if you don't mind. since i'm not an artist, i ask
you to forgive me. they are just rectangles. well, human imperfection. there is legitimatization of this organized crime. we have economic legitimacy. organized crime wants to earn money. they are not trying to give a service to people. well, the organized crime says, well, where there's no state that's where i'm going. where there's no structures to fight me, that's where i'm going. charles, if i run over time, please, let me know. well, when i'm over time, you let me know.
well, organized crime, their aim is economic profit, and more economic profit means more power. this is, therefore, the basis of a criminal organization, but if they just had that, criminal organizations would be easy to get rid of, you know. a lot of money, but you're a mafia boss and we can get rid of you, so they need to find a way to attractively insinuate themselves into society. how do they do it? well, i don't know exactly because they continue to do it, but i think we can say that the first thing they try to do after attaining economic profits is to legitimize themselves vis-a-vis
society, territorially speaking, almost all mob bosses have a specific territory that they protect, and in spain, for example, or italy, those people who are most corrupt, first, they do two things. one, they have an incredible luxurious mansion to show that they are there, and secondly, then they buy a soccer team. i'm not saying everyone who owns a soccer team are mafia bosses. well, i'm a real madrid supporter, and it is an honorable soccer team. well, this social level that goes from their little town starts to expand, and they create foundations, and they say
that they are fill on tphilanth. they say that they want to take care of people, be charitable, create legal foundations, medical foundations. they actually deceive people and get them into these foundations, and they select people who are well known to direct these foundations. some are deceived. others let themselves be deceived, and so they start to actually have this web, this social web that they are able to create and bring people in and then they realize that's not enough. why? because at the end the police in general, the state understands that their origin is this
economic origin so they need to take care of their reputation and they need to whitewash their reputation. well, money laundering is fundamental for criminal organizations for many years, and now we've added the whitewashing or the laundering of their reputation. if you have incredible assets you need to enjoy it and they want to be ostentatious. they want to show it, that they are enjoying it and that they are normal people and that society needs to support them and accept them. i think for the last 70 years starting in the '50s the sicilian mafia increased their activity. they go into rural areas. they also get money from the state. once of the examples is the
pillaging of palermo so these are mafias in construction and they built. well, it used to be said that a true mafia boss, a true kingpin, what they do is build a house and buy again a soccer team. well, any sport, you know. it doesn't have to be soccer, but when they build the house, they understand that the building itself, the construction is important, and they continue in the construction sector, and we see that all over the world. construction not just of buildings, highways, public works, and in the '50s the sicilian mafia realizes that they need to also go farther and devote themselves to getting profits from the state, to get these contracts awarded to them. that's the second step. i think that one step was
developed here and it's really to build a business which is a criminal organization, and that's what we have to see it as so the fight against money laundering is essential, but it's not the only fight, not the only front. we also have to fight against criminal activities and against corruption, and because this relationship between the awarding of contracts, public administration and criminal organizations, well, then, the criminal organizations come into contact with politicians and that's what allows for the third block of legitimizing themselves. in other words, they are insinuating themselves into the political world. they even get legislation
changed. they do this in legislation as far as crime is concerned. they say justice is slow. they get sentencing reduced. they get different crimes deleted or eliminated from the criminal code. they even between all these people they have in their web, well, we had detected in our investigations russian crime organizations that people who we know have police records have been able to have officials actually make these police records disappear so they can actually have their reports purged. and so the worst is when they actually create their own political parties and they are
the boss of an organized crime group. this has occurred. and i think that the liberal party in russia created, well, how is it possible that this party has officials that belong to organized crime. miguel mahiski who died and volshenko, and even a person like mr. lubovoy who has been accused of murdering alexander litvinenko, and finally down here we have the more subtle legitimizing process for organized crime, and this has to do directly with money
laundering, and this is using these large firms of attorneys, of financial experts, and i'm also talking about financial and banking institutions, institutions that go against the prevention of money laundering, and this is done in the economic sphere and other spheres. these people also have ties to all these other blocks here, the economic, the social, the public administration. these are people who are experts and specialists in managing tax havens. well, you could say tax havens don't exist. you can call it whatever you want, but these are areas, territories in which mafia bosses and criminals can have
assets which are hidden or the ownership thereof is hidden from investigators of any country, so you can call them countries that don't collaborate or countries or territories that are opaque. i would like to give you an example. and this is really self-criticism. this is spain, for example. spain currently has gibraltar. well, temporarily is british, but gibraltar, we consider it to be an opaque non-collaborating territory, and criminal organizations use gibraltar to actually hide their assets or the owners of assets. in the investigations we've undertaken, the first investigations done by the civil
guard and the police are investigations that are directly aimed at eradicating the thieves in law. i'm sure the interpreter said it in english. these thieves in law are the lowest part of the criminal organization. they are the leaders, but as in the '90s they were the ones that protected businesses or under whose protection, under their protection, wealth was created with over time, especially as of 2000, 2001, they start to act differently because they started doing this.
they -- if these thieves in law have tattoos all over them, they can't do any of these legitimizing activities. you've got to remove your tattoos. you have to be a normal person, and so i always speak in masculine. i say he because they are men, and we have to look at why, but the thieves in law have really become a species in danger of extinction, and they flourished in russia and now they have almost been exterminated and that part of the collaboration we've received from the office of the prosecutor in russia to eradicate them, but there's some thieves in law who have never had a tattoo and those are the ones that have bought the title of thieves in law, and these
thieves in law they indeed are legitimizing their activities. we have an investigation with regard to mr. vladimir turin. he is a thief in law. he was investigated for drug trafficking in the uk and in spain for leading a criminal organization clan, and currently 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 prosecutors' office in russia will continue with the investigation. there are people who have whi whitewashed his reputation and laundered his money. the investigation is ongoing because if russia does not
investigate him, we will take this back up. but there are a series of leaders of criminal organizations which go beyond this. they are not as vulgar as the thieves in law. we had an operation called troika operation in spain, and the national police and civil guard arrested several people in june of 2008, and then there's a man who w petrov who was arrested and fled spain. he had contacts with very high-level businessmen. the relationship he had with them was very familiar. it was based on a business relationship also, and we heard and read how mr. petrov also had
a relationship with the then minister of defense, sodokov and mr. sodokov was actually subordinate to mr. petrov. we heard him speak to him in friendly terms to also to mr. raymond, to other people who are not part of the administration, but they are part of the power structure in russia, and that is concerning. another person who we were investigating was mr. nikolay abramovich who was a general in russia, and he was responsible for fighting drug trafficking in russia, and we actually sent his file back to russia, and then mr. savilefski, well, thankfully the prosecutor's office in russia thinks the information we
gave them that gone after mr. savilevski. therefore, we've seen this relationship between organized crime, to the public administration in russia and politicians in russia, and so in reality what we're -- what we -- what you're doing is throwing stones at the russian public administration. no. indeed. an administration needs to recognize that there's corruption therein, and if that is the case, they need to clean it up, and in spain we've had recent arrests of a former minister in spain, and no one here is saying that the anti-corruption prosecutor or the civil guard that arrested 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 would like to talk about the difficulties we have in 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 -- that there's been some people who feel relaxed, that just because they are a democracy we're not going to 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 have taken forward which has to do with the corruption of a political party in cataluna. we saw that they were systematically corrupt, and the thesis put forward in that regard is what the civil guard thinks, it's what the prosecuteors' office thinks, but we think we'll be able to prove this in court so this is another example of how the catalan society and spanish society doesn't want to recognize that their administration is corrupt, and we think that's how it was possible that the political party was able to lead up the cry for independence, and we see horrible corruption, corruption
that stole money from all the taxpayers, from all our citizens. now, again, they had not been convicted, this political party, but this is our theory. now, also we had the -- the difficulties of social perception, but another difficulty we face is collaboration, cooperation. i began 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 is customs agency and also we had the police from catalonia. we have a wonderful relationship with the united states. we do not think that we are the
executing arm of the united states or anyone, just of ourselves, of spain, as was stated in wikileaks. some countries collaborate like the united states and we don't. we have faced serious problems in fighting organized crime with regard to the uk. very serious problems in getting them to cooperate, and with the exception of drug trafficking. we see that there's still tax havens or those opaque non-collaborative territories, as i mentioned, and we have problems getting cooperation from holland and belgium. we have serious issues in finding organized crime because of this, and i see that as the uk is reacting effectively to economic contamination that they
have 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 is 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 of this part. the legal financial part, that piece. thank you very much. [ applause ]
>> well, thank you, judge grinda. sebastian rheauotella is going say a few words. sebastian is currently with pro publica and knows judge grinda well and knows about his cases and related subjects and speaks spanish fluently. and so he will say a few words and then ben judah is with you, and as some of you know, the uk was just criticized in ways that ben would like to reform and has been working on that, and there's been some recent action in the uk as some of you know in the last ten days that's a little bit promising, at least. and then we'll have a brief
discussion. it's already ten of 11. we'll leave plenty of time for your questions given that we have such an extraordinarily distinguished audience, anded there are many familiar faces, and there are many non-familiar faces which is great. it's not the usual kleptocracy initiative fan club so we're very happy to see you, welcome. sebastian. >> sure. >> it's a pleasure to be here. thank you, charles, and to be here -- it's an honor to be here with jose grinda and talk a little bit about my perspective on this. as the american son of spanish and italian immigrants i spent a lot of time in spain for personal and professional reasons, and i've covered organized crime and terrorism and intelligence around the world, but last year when i got an assignment from pro publica to really look at russia-related questions in europe, i chose spain as hopefully a place that would be a window into this global phenomenon because i knew the language and i knew a lot of
people in law enforcement, and i had sort of been following some of these cases without going in depth, and so i got a chance to spend time with jose grinda, with people in the police, other agencies and see -- explore some of the places where some of these interesting cases had happened and, in fact, what is remarkable is that the spanish experience over the past 10, 15 years really -- this body of casework details the history of the evolution of russian organized crime overseas, not just in spain, and it reveals in remarkable detail that these are powered networks that go beyond traditional organized crime, that we are talking about a blurring or a blending of organized crime, intelligence, politics and business. i think the spanish experience as josé grinda described is a roadmap for how to fight this urgent global threat. a couple points of perspective that i think are interesting,
one to remember is the russian mafia comes in the '90s and early 2000s to spain looking for safety because of the intensity of the wars back home, investment opportunities, it was a country that was blooming especially in construction and real estate and as part of a global expansion, this was a global de aspera of organized crime. spain is a safe and civilized country, one of the lowest homicide rates in europe and it has tough and effective law enforcement with a very justice system with a lot of guarantees and a progressive prison policy, so there were a lot of reasons it was attractive and as this presence increased what you should remember, this is a very small number of -- starting out, in the late '90s, early 2,000s, we are talking about small numbers of investigators who become concerned and begin this difficult fight.
having worked with law enforcement around the world, one thing i've been impressed with good investigators is they're frank -- they're happy to say i don't know or i don't know this topic well or i'm just learning even when they are great experts. that was one thing that impressed me when talking to josé grinda and others is that they are candid about the fkt fact that in the beginning this was not a world that they few a lot about. they say we made a lot of mistakes and we had to learn, we had a lot of obstacles and they have come a long way because this was a different model of organized crime compared to what they were used to, spain is a crossroads for drug trafficking so they dealt with latin america mafia, the italian maria, but this was an entirely different model. these people showing up presented themselves as wealthy successful businessmen and so the investigators had to learn how to -- how to take on these groups, how to understand them. they had to educate their own
judiciary about this threat which is rather subtle. they had to prove crimes that were crimes that were happening often -- the money that was being laundered because of crimes that had happened elsewhere. they were dealing with enemies who on the one hand were very dangerous and had great firepower but on the other practice strategic restraint many of them so they weren't committing violent crimes in spain. these were mafia's with what seemed to be unlimited resources with some of the best lawyers and financial advisers that spain could -- that spain could offer. and they had difficulties with -- as much as josé talks about some of the collaboration, what's clear is they had difficulties with russia and some of these other countries where the eurasian mafias came from as trustworthy partners. they began to understand the dimensions of these groups that range from armies of burglars at the lowest level operating throughout europe to people as 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 really were pioneers in cooperation both in spain which wasn't necessarily easy if you followed spanish law enforcement, there were times when there was division among the other agencies and josé and others have had to coordinate among agencies, and international cooperation. i think one thing they realized was they had to learn about these groups and they had to work with a lot of other international partners if this fight was going to be successful. so working as you heard 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. in spain there were some dangerous signs. you saw that these behalf i can't say in the '90s and 2000s were starting to expand into areas like banking, business. there was a particular presence in the energy sector of bona
fide gangsters trying to muscle into the spanish energy sector. at one point it reached the presidential level in spain an attempt by luke oil the russian energy companies to move into the spanish market was blocked because it was seen as a national security threat. as you said, socker is not only a huge cultural phenomenon but a huge business in spain and one of the signs that you could talk about this infiltration and i know josé is a fan of real madrid so he will be happy to hear me at that you can about the barcelona soccer team, the chief of security for the barcelona soccer team was a convicted georgian drug trafficker at a certain point in the 2000s and the head of the other soccer team is a russian who is was accused and arrested of money laundering and mafia activity. and they found also inroads into politics and the police.
there are some cases where corrupt spanish police officers tipped off targets of the special prosecutor's office of their investigations. there was a moment when the cat listen politician who was convicted a couple years ago his attempt to direct the catalyn police officers which is 16,000 officers and one of the most prosperous regions in the country, he was convicted of being an accomplice of the russian mafia. the russian mafia would have been an a come listen running the catalyn regional police. it shows you some of the things they were coming up against. i think spain's crackdown was been one of the most sustained and systematic and they have arrested some of the most important bosses, russian or eurasian mafia bosses outside of -- arrested outside of russia, including calashov, the georgian kingpin. they have led europe-wide investigations of a particularly
murderous georgian mafia which to show you the obstacles they were up against when the spanish warrants are computed throughout europe in greece one of the wanted suspects in spain, a georgian spaz an $800,000 cash prescribe allegedly and managed to escape from the greek police who were coming to arrest them on behalf of the spanish. and you heard about the petrov case which is now a trial of some of those people, awaiting a verdict, which in my estimation and i know there are probably experts here who know other cases but is one of the strongest most interesting cases in a 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 they travel back to russia and hear bona fide gangsters treating cabinet ministers as business partners and treating people like the police general you heard about as flunkees. just the depth and breadth and
specificity of the way that that threat that combines these different sectors of crime and intelligence and politics and business, the way it works. and there's also, i think, just to finish, the spanish have taken a very aggressive premise, which is if there's a piece of an international organization in your territory they follow it to the top. so some of the oligarchs who have recently been sanctioned in the united states in the past weeks are people who josé grinda and others have been investigating for years and in some cases have prosecuted, in other cases have at least been able to question and they are cases that shed light on all kinds of interesting things, some are former partners of paul manafort who as you know is in the news these days. some of them are -- one of them is under investigation, aleksandr torshin, reportedly under investigation for ties to the trump campaign and potential illegal financing. again, the spanish cases really
give you -- it's a window that you have to think about going beyond the spanish borders. it gives you a window into all kinds of international activity. not always -- the case haves not always been successful. sometimes they start out as big operations and the results have not been -- have ultimately been rather meager, but i think there is no question that they have disrupted and dismantled and challenged these mafias and these larger structures in a way that's impressive. and one thing that i think is ironic is we know a lot about the russian mafia in spain precisely because there has been so much activity on this front, but i would argue that if you look at europe and you look at countries like the uk or greece or germany or maybe you hear less about it, there are places where there is a lot of work left to do and i think the spanish model of cooperation is one -- is one that, you know, should be emulated. just in closing, there is an expression i first heard which
is an expression used in sicily which meend the armored life which is the life that prosecutors and cops that fight the mafia live, always aware of the physical threats and treachery and attempts to treasure and attack them and it's the expression in spanish is similar to one you hear in latin america, too, about people fighting the same fight. that's the fight that people like josé and his colleagues have chosen. it's admirable and it's a pleasure to be on this panel with him today. thank you. >> thank you, sebastian. ben, does this bring any comments or questions to mind? >> well, first i'd like to thank our guests for such a panoramic tour dee force through russia and spain and bringing to light not only the severity of the problem but the power that these organizations now possess.
i'd like to make a few maybe possibly slightly more wonkish comments about what could be done in the united states in order to tackle this problem and 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 anonymous company, one finds the legal entity or the legal entity of llcs, the legal entity of the corporations stripped down to its purest form simply as sort of a sheet of paper or digital imprint being used anonymously to cover up crime and to cover up the proceeds of crime and 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 or their equivalents when creating these anonymous companies a criminal offense. thin sent should dedicate an inspection unit for agents and equivalents to make sure that's effective compliance. as long as you can hide the identity of somebody controlling an asset or the individual linked to the asset behind the cloud of anonymity it makes the work of people like josé grinda goz less extremely difficult and the life of a 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, 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 doj needs to introduce a comprehensive enforcement strategy and that congress should finally allocate sufficient resources for its implementation. 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 that loopholes where lobbyists can sometimes register under different disclosure acts should be consolidated and that the time frames for registration and penalties for sort of late 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 purpose in any meaningful sense anti-money laundering system in this company is fully amount mized. it was designed in order to combat cocaine cowboys in miami in the 1980s operating essentially with cash and it's not fit essentially to do anything else apart from catch those people. what needs to be done is there needs to be an extension of the abt money laundering system, a way 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 josé grinda gonzales. real estate, the real estate industry, lawyers and other sort of luxury -- luxury industries
possibly including the soccer industry. 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, a 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-16 or a tank or something atomic or chemical, full resources are deployed in order to counter act even the possibility of such a threat. when a national security threat comes in the form of -- comes in the form of dirty money or it comes in in the pin striped suit of a lawyer or of a
the importance of numbers and when you sort of study this field or when you study how these issues are reported there is a lack of concrete numbers. one thing that the treasury and that the relevant discussions can do is release regularly updated 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 gigantic costs. which i'd like to once again thank our panelists for coming here today. >> thank you. thanks, fin. 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 sibly who can raise his hand
perhaps. 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 judge renda's visit. so thank you, nate. nate deserves a big hand. and nate is the program manager of the kleptocracy initiative and does everything from co-authoring reports, writing op-eds to organizing event and also produces this daily brief we put out which is a lot of trouble and we wanted to stop doing it for months and months and months. people keep telling us it's so useful that nate is stuck doing it and a lot of the people who are real actors and the anti-kleptocracy space to put it perhaps more specifically than i should read this. so we keep doing it and nate
spends a couple hours a day on it. many of you may be signed up for it and if not i hope you -- yeah. are any of our reports out there, nate? they are all out there. okay. so i should say about countering russian kleptocracy that this isn't necessarily about russia only, it's really about countering kleptocracy in general, but we thought we would give it a specific vivid title because that 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 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 and then we may zing one or two things around. i'm told we can go a little bit
past 11:30 that depends on your availability as the audience shrinks to an embarrassing size we will stop. so please -- now, there will be a microphone or multiple microphones floating around. if you could please identify yourself by name and affiliation, we will take it from there. sir, in the front. >> hello, my name is alexi, i'm a reporter with the russian news agency. my question is for mr. grinda gonzales. you displayed in court threatening messages to you and spoke about threats. i just wanted to ask you to speak in that regard how -- how your life changed after this investigation began, do you need
to take precautions in every day 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 it's some of the cases you are pretty sure that they will continue the investigation against some people that you indicted but probably in other cases it's not so. thank you. >> translator: first of all, the threats that we who investigate organized crime receive, in general, and people in particular like me, are two
types, first, contrary to russian is smearing campaign. they have done that to me actually, and honestly i don't care. i'm supported 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 is some investigation against those that order my -- 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 prosecutor's office, the
national police are working hard on my secure -- 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 home jen nous. sometimes if we don't need the prosecutor's office they cannot chew. [ speaking foreign language ] >> translator: i have a question about venezuela and andora and if this is a topic of interest for the prosecutor's office and
whether you are investigating this. >> translator: well, if i start talking about that i think only three people will be left in the audience because we will be here for five, six hours or maybe a few days even. just to be brief, because really it's such a huge topic, andora, well, it's not a problem. the problem with private banks in andora is very isolated, specific. it had great repercussions because the banking system was garage liesed at that point but it's not systemic and in andora we have wonderful cooperation
with andora 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 fincen, the financial intelligence units and that's important, that kind of cooperation. the issue of private banks in ando andora, now, venezuelans who were clients of andoran banks, that relationship could exist anywhere in the world. i think the private banking in andora was not a problem, it was just a problem of venezuelans. what is the problem of venzness? i would need hours to talk about that. briefly the justice systems was ongoing investigations in spain and with regard to venezuelans
who have been stealing money from venezuela who is responsible for the i'm proven i wishment of the venezuelan people, so we are cooperating with andora, portugal and the u.s. in this sense and we hope and i'm not being ironic here, we hope to have the cooperation of venezuelan prosecutors. so what are we talking about here as far as stealing money is concerned? i'm just going to give you an example. i think that as of the declaration of the emergency situation in 2010 there were a series of contracts with electric plants to generate electricity in venezuela. it's been a failure. many of the public businesses that awarded contracts or were awarded contracts for different works are being sought after by the united states, by spain and
by others. we still need to prosecute those people who actually corrupted those public servants and venezuelan politicians. we are talking about people in the u.s., people in venezuela, although most of the people in venezuela came to the united states and they are subject to investigation in the u.s. and there are suits and reports against venezuelans in venezuela because they are responsible for the i'm proven i wishment of the venezuelan people. >> okay. thank you. the disheveled gentleman in the second row, please. >> my name is glen simpson and i run a research company here in washington. my question is about aleksandr torshin. i'd like to know, i think
sebastian and others have reported that he appears to have been tipped off to his arrest warrant in spain. i wanted to know if any progress has been made in figuring out who tipped him off, how he found out about it, whether he has been put on an interpol red notice and finally, whether you have shared information with the u.s. government about mr. torshin and his suspected criminal activities. >> translator: well, as soon as i take the floor i think that i can answer that. aleksandr torshin was subject to investigation in spain of a court in maiorka.
the civil guard was conducting the investigation along with the anti-corruption prosecutor's office and juan corell who is the anti-corruption prosecutor and in charge of the office in majorka and i worked with him, he was heading up the investigation and that's why the investigation was successful. we investigated torshin, why? because he was involved with a man named emanoff who has been convicted -- or romanoff, excuse me, and it seemed to us there was criminal activity going on to the extent that 22nd of august, i think it was, 2013 he was waiting for mr. torshin to go to the birthday of mr.
romanoff in majorka and had he arrived we would have detained him at the airport. we had telephone conversations that are intercepted under that investigation that led us to believe that he was laundering money under a criminal organization. well, the fbi also has linked him to rabanovich and senocliff and both romanoff and torshin talked about these two people as if they knew them, as if they were friends and currently mr. romanoff has been 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 of 2014, if i remember correctly, well, this evidence, well, kind of disbursed and so we never actually issued an indictment against him nor was there an international order issued against him, either. >> gentleman over there, please. >> steven blank, american foreign policy council. my question is for the -- is both sides wearing the same hat with regard to organized crime and media pen straetration in e. >> translator: 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 a 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 of the country, of the society. in other words, an alignment. in spain as far as i know there has 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 few exceptions of if i may use the word
[ inaudible ] media outlets and that is an insult, by the way. so there has been specific gentlemen to have attacked me and that's not why he is an -- necessarily but it's because it was for money, that's why they did it, not because of my character. so when i say that i don't know, perhaps you think i don't want to say that, no, i just -- i really have no idea. >> the issue that we just experienced -- not the usual language we use around here. oh, yes, sebastian. >> just an immediate point. having covered latin america where i saw cases of journalists or even media outlets being directly instruments of the behalf in a in one way or the other directed to drug cartels
or intelligence certainly, certainly in in western europe i haven't seen that. there are cases in some country where oligarchs or people connected to them have moved to acquire media-related businesses. so there you start to wonder -- and the 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 sear sympathetic with the refresh chic in russia and have gone as far important political leaders in some of those countries saying things like they don't believe that the poisoning in salisbury -- that countries don't do that. they don't believe that any country would try to poison anybody line that. to the extent political leaders that have media sympathetic to them are taking that line you could see how that could start to seep in. certainly the other thing that
you've seen, for example, in the cat listen price is and this isn't really media but the kind of fake news, bots, propaganda activity that has been attributed to russian-connected forces in other parts of the west were certainly on display, a lot of objective analysts have said in catalonia, so that's worrisome in terms of fake news, continuing what has seemed to be a strategy of fullmenting division and chaos and all that. i think that has been on display in the catalin crisis. seen as a russian/venezuela connection. >> just to reiterate that i have to deal with this problem like the first essential tool is transparency, you need to bring as much transparency as possible in order to reveal situations like this happening in the media and that means bringing
transparency to corporate structures, tax declarations in order to help law enforcement do its job. a second thing that we really need is reporting requirements, more reporting requirements in order to make sure money laundering is not happening on sectors they are not covered, you know, like -- like sort of property, like lawyers, like hedge funds. capacity building we don't have enough people dealing with this. you have a handful of people working as bank examiners but then you have tens of thousands of people working on redundant national security issues just because that's how the bureaucratic inertia works. one thing that i didn't talk about last time is we really need legal tools. the crisis in the united kingdom is a well explained wealth order which places onus on an individual from an at risk country in order to explain
where his wealth comes from. that's something you urgently need to bring here. you need integration of these topics into the national security framework and international security doctrine, but finally there is this question of the fourth estate and whether -- even though the fourth estate may not feature as a classical branch of political theory when it comes to understanding a democratic system it functions as such. what we are seeing in europe and north america monopolist i can online platforms which are destroying the ability of the fourth estate to finance itself, also destroying the ability of journalists, journalism to be funded, we need to move so that these monopoly platforms are forced -- are forced to either renum rate platforms for the content that they drive their clicks from allowing meme to
share or that they pay taxes -- pay higher taxes which can then be used to support -- 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 first off bad for democracy and bad for fighting organized crime. >> any other questions? sir. we will get the microphone to yo you. >> i'm going to speak is spanish. >> could you identify yourself. >> translator: i have may have yar roberos, i was ambassador of spain to the united states between 2001 and 2004. the first time i heard about prosecutor gringa was in a book
by karen davica who was a regular presence here and who we regret has died. she wrote a book which was called "createns kleptocracy" and she favorably talked about prosecutor grinda, she hailed all of his actions taken against the russian mafia. this book has only been published in the united states because in the uk they didn't dare publish it. they were concerned that there would be a liable suit filed, and she said that the problem
isn't that the mafia exists in russia, but that the state is a mafia state and that the head of that mafia organization or state is vladimir putin so it's a criminal state she asserted, not just a criminal gang or one more criminal gang. do you share this analysis, what she put forward, her thesis, do you share this? >> translator: do i have to deal with this? okay. well, there's a book in spain, it was written by a media outlet abc, it's a newspaper in spai spain -- well, the name of the book is "the word of vor", word
of thieves. i have to speak as a prosecutor. in my investigations in spain i have not validated that thesis, not at all. what i have said is that what we perceive is that there is a very high level corruption of russia, we have been fighting against that and in part with the cooperation of russian prosecutors, the rest is, well, your reading of it, believing in people. mr. livanenko, for example, had that thesis, he asserted that, and he is dead and there is an investigation in the uk -- well, there were two that i knew about actually or that i -- that
existed, i believe, one to see who had killed alexander livanenko, two specific people were identified and then there was a different proceeding about the reasons why those two people killed him. the british judge thought it was probable that the russian state had participated in this killing. i've always said in the meeting that i had with mr. livanenko i was very critical of him because i believed he was have the secret services and he had worked with mr. bararovski who was an oligarch so i thought that relationship was -- well, it would not exist if he was 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 other kind of cooperation he might have had, but he also has -- which descends the thesis which you have 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 i -- >> -- ben became famous at the age of 23 with his book about the russian empire. do you want to touch this? you don't have to.
>> you don't have to -- >> i have a slightly different thesis when it comes to russia. something that i personally think is that there are actually limits to a kleptocracy paradigm in understanding the motivations of russian politicians and that a certain point of view in thinking that the russian elites motivations can uniquely be explained in terms of maximizing profits and maximizing rents only goes so far and doesn't explain the full necessity they have to embark on struggle and collusion with the west. i think a kleptocracy framework is useful but i think i personally got the more paired down version of it. in the early 2000s it was very popular in academia, for obvious reasons there was an overfocus on trying to find ideologies
behind the putin regime. it took ideology, i think, much too seriously in trying to understand how the kremlin worked. now there haven't in the mainstream enough interrogation of the besieged fort tress, what they mean, what the russian establishment has come to believe about certain things and how it's propagating ideologies and pumping them into institutions and network institutions from the whole secret service world, it really is a world of private schools and private hunting lodges and into the bureaucracy and into the military. i think that when we talk about russia a comment that one receives from russian officials and then media, media, media sock puppets is you're talking about fragment remains of the
1990s. they do have a point here which is that the -- certainly the discussion in the media we get is an overfocus on a generation of ambitious 1990 oligarchs heavy criminal lysed, but you have these sort of western global financial ambitions and there isn't enough discussion of these other generations of kleptocrats which either don't have a.m. missions on a global scale or know it won't be possible for them to achieve or the generation of putin oligarchs whose motivations have become a lot more blurred, it's still -- it's still there. just this bottom line which is that a purely kleptocratic
russian elite would not have embarked on the policies it has over the last five or six years. you need to think of russia as a fusion of kleptocracy and ideology and, you know, what is a very real kind of bureaucratic and repress sieve mechanism in my opinion. >> do you want to comment or leave this one -- >> just briefly, i mean, i would have to spend -- i've spent many years covering powerful mafias where the lines between the mafia and the state blur around the world, particularly latin america, countries like mexico, argentina, guatemala which different people have talked about as models of penetration of the state by mafias and italy and other places. i don't think i've covered russia long enough or in depth enough to assert a thesis like that which a journalist probably shouldn't assert anyway unless he's written a very long article
or a short book on it or a long book. but certainly my work so far through looking at this issue and comparing it to others is i haven't seen in other places where i've covered very powerful, very dangerous mafias this build urg that the spanish cases show very well of organized crime, intelligence and law enforcement services, the business world and politics. i mean, the way those things all come together in the model of eurasian mafias is remarkable and disturbing as some of the specific cases. >> i'd like to ask a question actually to sort of -- to our honored guest which is have any -- or have in any of your cases have you come across any individuals linked to trump or linked to people linked to trump? >> just to shift gears
radically. >> no. >> no. all right. >> let me continue to -- with this question, the official position of course is that we don't have one. the hudson institute is a think tank and doesn't take official positions of this sort, but i think the answer is we don't care. in other words, we don't care what you call it. what we're concerned about is u.s. national security and nothing is going to be 100%. i mean, this thesis of the russian mafia state obviously it's not -- it's never completely true, but we do think that obviously and we work closely with, care and wish that it is an interesting paradigm in terms of understanding what's going on and particularly in understanding the extent to which the st. petersburg group has increasingly increased its power within the russian state.
that is at this point a factual descriptive one might say. i don't think too many people including those involved would question this a whole lot. they are not spending a lot of time trying to debunk that. so i think it is now almost quarter of noon. i think we can end on that and thank you, ambassador, very much for your question which is a wonderful note to end on. thank you and thank you all for coming. [ applause ]
sits down with former president george w. bush to talk about his humanitarian efforts. on c-span 2 susan lions the u.s. olympic committee ceo testifies on capitol hill and apologizes to athletes who were sexually abused. and on c-span 3, students impacted by gun violence share their experiences with the house democratic gun violence prevention task force. all of that tonight at 8:00 easter eastern. >> here is a look at some of the program highlights for this memorial day weekend. saturday on c-span, at 9:30 eastern the monk debate, is political correctness a pellet to free a speech or a positive force for social justice. on book tv on c-span 2 at 11:00 p.m. eastern john me chum author of the sole of america, the battle for our better ain't jelgs. on c-span 3 at 10:00 p.m. eastern on real america archival
films of world war i. former new jersey governor chris christie at the university of chicago institute of politics. on book tv on c-span 2 at 9:00 p.m. eastern on afterwards, former national intelligence director james clapper. sunday on american history tv on c-span 3 at 6:00 p.m. eastern on american artifacts, a tour of the battlefield monuments and american cemetery in france. memorial day on c-span at 11:00 a.m. eastern live coverage of the wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the unloan soldier. on c-span 2 at 8:30 p.m. eastern in depth. and on american history tv on c-span 3 beginning at 8:00 a.m. eastern programs marking the centennial of world war i. this memorial day weekend on the c-span networks, go to cspan.org for more programs and times.
>> next two house science space and technology subcommittees look at new and emerging medical technologies designed to help veterans, members heard from the founders of the group soldier strong and project hero and chief science with the american department's national nuclear security administration. this is about two hours. >> -- will come to order. without objection, the chair is authorized to declare recesses of the committee at any time. good morning and welcome to today's hearing entitled empowering u.s. veterans through technology. i now recognize myself for five minutes for an opening statement. the impetus for today's hearing goes back a year or so to may 2017 when i first met with one of our witnesses john warden