Earlier this week, we learned that the Russian investment company, Renova Group, is controlled by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who happens to be a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and was also placed last month on the US Treasury Department’s list of sanctioned individuals and entities for Russian election meddling and other hostile activities.
CNN is reporting that special counsel Robert Mueller started questioning Vekselberg at a New York-area airport earlier this year about payments to the US investment firm, Columbus Nova, made to Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Vekselberg and Columbus Nova founder Andrew Intrater are cousins. Intrater was also questioned by the special counsel. It is noteworthy to add that this company was also used by Cohen to pay off porn star Stormy Daniels.
Now that the investment firm is in the midst of the Russian oligarch scandal, they decided to completely scrape their website, hoping to camouflage any lethal evidence that will tie Trump and his lawyer to collusion.
Columbus Nova also has been removing and playing down stronger previous descriptions of its relationship with the Russian firm. The move could be an attempt to mitigate the potential impact on the firm since the US Treasury sanctioned its largest investor, Renova, and Vekselberg earlier this year.
Columbus Nova included the ties to Renova on its site as recently as last spring, but that information has since been removed. An archived copy of the site—available on the Wayback Machine, which catalogs previous versions of websites—links Intrater directly to Renova in his biography.”
In response, Columbus Nova, the company Avenatti identified as the conduit for the Vekselberg payments to Cohen, denied there was a Russian connection. An attorney for the firm released a statement insisting the money Cohen had received from Columbus Nova had not originated with the oligarch:
Columbus Nova is an investment management company solely owned and controlled by Americans. After the inauguration, the firm hired Michael Cohen as a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures. Reports today that Viktor Vekselberg used Columbus Nova as a conduit for payments to Michael Cohen are false. The claim that Viktor Vekselberg was involved in or provided any funding for Columbus Nova’s engagement of Michael Cohen is patently untrue. Neither Viktor Vekselberg nor anyone else other than Columbus Nova’s owners were involved in the decision to hire Cohen or provided funding for his engagement. Additionally, contrary to recent reports, Columbus Nova LLC and Renova U.S. Management, LLC (operated under the Columbus Nova umbrella) are not now, nor have ever been, owned by any foreign entity or person. In fact, since its founding nearly 20 years ago, Columbus Nova has been and continues to be 100% owned by Americans.”
If Columbus Nova is indeed not connected to the oligarch, why would they erase every trace of information from their website? Seems oddly suspicious…
Financial records do not provide the specifics of the relationship between Vekselberg and U.S. firm. However, there appears to be much more to their business collaboration there than the statement from Columbus Nova acknowledges. As to whether Vekselberg and his Renova Group have any direct ownership interest in Columbus Nova, there is another wrinkle.
According to a 2011 registration, Columbus Nova filed with the SEC to act as an investment advisor and a firm called Half Moon Holdings, which was registered as a limited liability corporation in Delaware in 2005, became the majority owner of Columbus Nova in 2008. Its registration form, as is customary for Delaware corporate registrations, discloses no information about who owns or controls Half Moon Holdings. Columbus Nova has not filed subsequent documents with the SEC that show if the firm retains its majority stake. So, what’s the intel on Half Moon Holdings?
A spokesman for Columbus Nova did not respond to questions regarding the mysterious corporation. He also declined to explain why SEC filings described Columbus Nova as an “affiliate” of Vekselberg’s company. And he did not respond to a request for more detail on the investment advice that Columbus Nova says it obtained from Cohen.
The more these crooks deny the truth, the harder it will be for them once Mueller gets a hold of the emerging details. Collusion seems to be creeping in on Trump and his team of criminals.