Wednesday, May 16, 2018

FBI Investigating Mercer's Cambridge Analytica


Cambridge Analytica was created around 2013, initially with a focus on U.S. elections, with $15 million in backing from Long Island neo-Nazi billionaire Robert Mercer. Steve Bannon came up with the name, which was focussed on stealing U.S. elections.

I've been told that no law enforcement agencies have questioned Mercer or his vicious crackpot daughter Rebekah, the owners of the company, and the fascists behind the direction it has taken. But there have been reports all week that the FBI and Justice Department are investigating the company. Instead, prosecutors seem to be trying to "question former Cambridge Analytica employees and banks that handled its business." The New York Times refers to the company as "a now-defunct political data firm embroiled in a scandal over its handling of Facebook user information." But are they really defunct-- or just gearing up to help the GOP steal the midterms or help Trump in 2020?
Cambridge Analytica said earlier this month it was shutting down after losing clients and facing mounting legal fees resulting from reports the company harvested personal data about millions of Facebook users beginning in 2014.

Allegations of the improper use of data for 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by President Donald Trump's 2016 U.S. election campaign, have prompted multiple investigations in the United States and Europe.

The investigation by the Justice Department and FBI appears to focus on the company's financial dealings and how it acquired and used personal data pulled from Facebook and other sources, the Times said.

Investigators have contacted Facebook, according to the newspaper.
The Guardian published a real time account of today's Senate Judiciary Committee questioning of Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

UPDATE: Oh, And By The Way, Did Ronan Farrow Find The Smoking Gun Tonight?

Take it away, Ronan. He starts by reminding everyone that Cohen, Trumpanzee's third rate, shyster personal lawyer "had used a shell company to receive payments from various firms with business before the Trump Administration" and that, since then, there's been lots of speculation about who leaked the confidential Cohen financial records. That source, a law-enforcement official, explained his motivation to Farrow in an interview. Basically he had "grown alarmed after being unable to find two important reports on Cohen’s financial activity in a government database. The official, worried that the information was being withheld from law enforcement, released the remaining documents."
The payments to Cohen that have emerged in the past week come primarily from a single document, a “suspicious-activity report” filed by First Republic Bank, where Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, L.L.C., maintained an account. The document detailed sums in the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Cohen by the pharmaceutical company Novartis, the telecommunications giant A.T. & T., and an investment firm with ties to the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

The report also refers to two previous suspicious-activity reports, or sars, that the bank had filed, which documented even larger flows of questionable money into Cohen’s account. Those two reports detail more than three million dollars in additional transactions—triple the amount in the report released last week. Which individuals or corporations were involved remains a mystery. But, according to the official who leaked the report, these sars were absent from the database maintained by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or fincen. The official, who has spent a career in law enforcement, told me, “I have never seen something pulled off the system. . . . That system is a safeguard for the bank. It’s a stockpile of information. When something’s not there that should be, I immediately became concerned.” The official added, “That’s why I came forward.”

Seven former government officials and other experts familiar with the Treasury Department’s fincen database expressed varying levels of concern about the missing reports. Some speculated that fincen may have restricted access to the reports due to the sensitivity of their content, which they said would be nearly unprecedented. One called the possibility “explosive.” A record-retention policy on fincen’s Web site notes that false documents or those “deemed highly sensitive” and “requiring strict limitations on access” may be transferred out of its master file. Nevertheless, a former prosecutor who spent years working with the fincen database said that she knew of no mechanism for restricting access to sars. She speculated that fincen may have taken the extraordinary step of restricting access “because of the highly sensitive nature of a potential investigation. It may be that someone reached out to fincen to ask to limit disclosure of certain sars related to an investigation, whether it was the special counsel or the Southern District of New York.” (The special counsel, Robert Mueller, is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. The Southern District is investigating Cohen, and the F.B.I. raided his office and hotel room last month.)

Whatever the explanation for the missing reports, the appearance that some, but not all, had been removed or restricted troubled the official who released the report last week. “Why just those two missing?” the official, who feared that the contents of those two reports might be permanently withheld, said. “That’s what alarms me the most.”

Fincen said in a statement that it protects the confidentiality of sars “in order to protect both filers and potentially named individuals.” The statement added, “FinCEN neither confirms nor denies the existence of purported SARs.” Spokespeople for the special counsel’s office and the Southern District of New York declined to comment. Michael Cohen and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

Banks are legally mandated to file suspicious-activity reports with the government in order to call attention to activity that resembles money laundering, fraud, and other criminal conduct. These reports are routed to a permanent database maintained by fincen, which can be searched by tens of thousands of law-enforcement and other federal government personnel. The reports are a routine response to any financial activity that appears suspicious. They are not proof of criminal activity, and often do not result in criminal charges, though the information in them can be used in law-enforcement proceedings. “This is a permanent record. They should be there,” the official, who described an exhaustive search for the reports, said. “And there is nothing there.”

Labels: , , , ,


At 5:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Shakespeare may well have put it, this "investigation" will prove to be Much Ado About Nothing. Even if a crime can be demonstrated, America doesn't imprison or fine white billionaires.

At 6:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

true, 5:35.

I might suggest that the fact that Ronan Farrow and Michael Avenatti can ferret out info that Mueller can't... or won't... proves my contention that Mueller's job is to run out the clock on this so that pence gets his full 10 years as the return of 'the savior'. pence would gladly accept the biblical task of determining the 1500 to be raptured while finding a good way to kill everyone else.

At 6:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh goodie. I'm SOOOOO happy that the effing FBI is investigating. Any day now, they'll have those mercers in handcuffs... right??



Post a Comment

<< Home