Recent news reports suggest that two state institutions of Russia, closely linked to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, were responsible for funding huge investments in Facebook and Twitter through one of Jared Kushner’s business associates.
The man behind these investments is Yuri Milner, a technology magnate in Russia. He also has a share in one of Kushner co-owned companies. Kushner is the celebrity son-in-law of President Trump and also a senior adviser in the White House.
Gazprom and VTB fund Facebook and Twitter
According to Alexander Vershbow, former American representative to Russia, the state institutions in Russia were often utilized as “tools” to drive some political projects of Putin. He added that these findings were a cause for concern, especially in the backdrop of Moscow’s attempts to damage public debate and American democracy.
The details of these investments can be found in a trove called ‘Paradise Papers’, which contains several million leaked documents that are assessed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) along with some other partners. The money seemed to have come in via investments vehicles under the control of Milner. In 2015, Milner had made an investment in a new firm in NYC and this firm was co-owned by Kushner and his brother. During the initial days, at the time of joining the White House, Kushner had not disclosed his personal stake in the company, named Cadre.
Both Twitter and Facebook were unaware of the funding for these investments which had come from state-run VTB Bank and Gazprom (government-run oil and gas company).
According to the official files, VTB had made an investment of $191 million in Twitter. Around that time, Gazprom Investholding had financed a solid offshore firm, which ultimately funded a channel holding nearly 1 billion worth of shares in Facebook.
Milner Denies Association with Kushner
Milner argues that he is not Kushner’s associate and had made an investment in his business for profit reasons only. He clarifies that they had had only one meeting in the United States last year. Milner says that he has absolutely no connection (funding-related or otherwise) with any political activities.
The disclosure involves two huge technology companies in the United States that got financial funding from Russian entities that have connections with the Kremlin. This hints toward to the Russians secretly using their platforms for boosting the Presidential campaign of Trump in 2016. At present, both Gazprom and VTB are under sanctions in the US.