Tags: kremlin | cash | facebook | twitter

Kremlin Cash Behind Facebook, Twitter Investments, Report Says

Kremlin Cash Behind Facebook, Twitter Investments, Report Says

Internet investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner shows the Starchip, a microelectronic component spacecraft, during a press conference announcing the new Breakthrough Initiative focusing on space exploration and the search for life in the universe, Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at One World Observatory in New York. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

By    |   Monday, 06 November 2017 11:32 AM

Kremlin cash is behind Facebook and Twitter investments made by Russian billionaire tech investor Yuri Milner, according to leaked documents viewed by The New York Times and other media organizations around the world.

The Times said that Milner's company once owned 8 percent of Facebook and 5 percent of Twitter before selling the holdings several years ago.

The newspaper said he continues investments in several other large technology companies and is involved in a real estate venture founded and partly owned by Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and White House adviser.

The New York Times reported that Milner's Twitter investment was backed by VTB, a Russian state-controlled bank often used for politically strategic deals. Milner's Facebook deal was buoyed with financing from Gazprom Investholding, another government-controlled financial institution, according to the documents viewed by the Times.

The Times said it reviewed the documents in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The documents from the Bermuda law firm Appleby were first obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Times said.

"Kremlin-connected institutions make investments with strategic interests in mind — not just commercial interests but state interests as well," Michael Carpenter, senior director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, told the Times. "They go hand in hand.

"Oligarchs who receive significant amounts of financial support from Russian banks like VTB or Sberbank or Gazprombank have to pass above a political threshold, meaning such support requires the explicit or tacit approval of those at the top of Russia’s crony capitalist system," added Carpenter, who was the Russia director at the National Security Council during the Obama administration.

Last week, executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google testified on Capitol Hill at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, centering on how foreign nationals used social media to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, CNN noted.

The back-and-forth with lawmakers spotlighted the difficulties the online companies face in trying to monitor their large block users and crack down on foreign election meddling and misinformation campaigns, CNN said.

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Kremlin cash is behind Facebook and Twitter investments made by Russian billionaire tech investor Yuri Milner, according to leaked documents viewed by The New York Times and other media organizations around the world.
kremlin, cash, facebook, twitter
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2017-32-06
Monday, 06 November 2017 11:32 AM
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