Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, convicted in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on eight criminal counts, including bank and tax fraud, was the chief promoter of Vice President Mike Pence while Trump was deciding on a running mate. Pence’s brother, Ed Pence, is a retired executive with engine manufacturer Cummins, Inc., headquartered in Columbus, Indiana. During Ed Pence’s 36 years with the firm, he was promoted to vice president in charge of strategic initiatives. Ed Pence retired in December 2017. Ed Pence was largely responsible for developing a close relationship between Cummins and Russian truck manufacturer KAMAZ, based in the Russian autonomous Republic of Tatarstan.
WMR previously reported that Cummins’s chief lobbyist in Washington was Prime Policy Group (PPG), headed by Manafort’s erstwhile lobbying partner Charlie Black. Black, Manafort, and Trump associate Roger Stone formed Manafort, Black, Stone & Kelly in 1980, a lobbying firm that represented some of the world’s most notorious dictators, including Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, and Mohammed Siad Barre of Somalia.
Cummins, which has a joint venture, ZAO Cummins KAMAZ, with the Russian truck manufacturer KAMAZ, was a generous donor to Pence’s campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives and governor of Indiana. Cummins also donated to the Trump-Pence 2018 presidential campaign. Greg Pence, the vice president’s older brother, is running for Congress to represent the 6th district, a seat once held by his brother, Mike. Greg Pence’s only experience for being a member of the U.S. House of Representatives has been running an antiques business in Columbus.
It is noteworthy that one of the illegal activities for which the Russian mafia is particularly noted is black marketing stolen antiquities, especially from the Middle East. Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby, is a close friend of Mike Pence. When Green’s Bible Museum officially opened in Washington, DC, in November 2017—at a ceremony attended by Vice President Pence—it was found to contain at least $201 million worth of stolen artifacts, mainly from Iraq. Hobby Lobby’s settlement with the Justice Department included a $3 million fine and forfeiture of its stolen antiquities.
In the midst of the 2016 campaign, Manafort convinced Trump to select Pence over New Jersey Governor Chris Christie because of Pence’s “Christian values,” which Manafort said was necessary to unite the evangelical wing of the GOP around Trump. In fact, Manafort’s sponsorship of Pence had more to do with the connections of Mike and Ed Pence to Manafort’s key clients in Russia. In addition to Russian oligarchs Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg, who have investments in Tatarstan industries, including KAMAZ, Pence, through Manafort, is linked to Sergey Roldugin, a major shareholder of Cummins’s partner, KAMAZ. Roldugin is also a famed Russian cellist and the godfather of Maria Putina, the daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yevgeny Roldugin, Sergey’s brother, served in the Soviet KGB with Vladimir Putin.
Pence is a perfect Trojan horse in right-wing Republican politics. A “born-again” evangelical Christian, along with his wife, Pence is viewed as someone who possesses solid Republican values. In fact, Pence, through his and Ed Pence’s connections with Manafort and his Russian lobbying network, is very much a part of Eurasian organized crime’s operations to buy off American politicians, and, in the case of Trump and Pence, the White House.
Cummins’s deal with KAMAZ involves the joint production of trucks, including military-grade vehicles that are either used by the Russian military or sold to other countries, including nations in Africa. Some of the African buyers of ZAO Cummins KAMAZ trucks and other vehicles include Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and Kenya, countries that Trump lumped together as “shithole” countries.
Roldugin’s reported 15 percent ownership of KAMAZ is handled through Raytar Limited, an offshore company in Cyprus. Manafort owned a network of Cypriot firms that were connected to KAMAZ accounts in Cypriot banks, including the Bank of Cyprus, for which Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross served as vice chairman, and the Russian Commercial Bank (RCB), also headquartered in Cyprus. Russian oligarch Dmitry Ryvoloviev, a real estate partner of Trump, owns a 10 percent stake in the Bank of Cyprus. Other Bank of Cyprus investors include Vekselberg, one of Manafort’s clients, and Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, a one-time KGB officer who served, along with Ross, as a vice chairman of the bank. That places two former KGB officers, Yevgeny Roldugin and Strzhalkovsky, within the orbit of the vice president’s brother’s Russian trucking manufacturing operations.
In October 1973, while the attention of the media was focused on Richard Nixon’s problems emanating from the Watergate burglary of Democratic National Committee headquarters, the nation was stunned to learn that Vice President Spiro Agnew had been indicted for federal tax evasion. With the conviction of Manafort, a key link between the Pence brothers and Russian oligarchs, including Roldugin, federal prosecutors may hold the political future of Pence in their hands as much as they do that of Trump.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).