On September 25, a group assembled in room HC 8 of the U.S. Capitol for what was billed as a hearing of the “US Congressional Committee on Financial Issues.” The supposed hearing was organized and chaired by former Florida Congressman (and defeated Senate candidate) Connie Mack.
But, with the same kind of unconventional promotional tactics that made his great-grandfather a baseball legend, former Congressman Mack even persuaded Ukrainian television to cover the “hearing”, advertising it as real.
In fact, it was not a hearing. No representative of Congress or the Executive branch showed up. It had no official status.
The purpose of the “hearing” was to air charges of corruption against the highly respected former head of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), the equivalent of our Federal Reserve Board, Valeriya Hontareva,
An ally of the pro-western Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko, Hontareva became a figure of controversy when she nationalized the largest bank in the country PrivatBank. The owner of PrivatBank was Ihor Kolomoisky, noted Ukrainian oligarch and rival of the Poroshenko Administration.
Image by Andrew Butko
Hontareva’s support of the embattled Ukraine government has landed her in the cross-hairs of the Kremlin and the phony hearing appears to have been part of Moscow’s campaign of disinformation to discredit President Poroshenko.
The sole purpose of the “hearing” was to get coverage on Ukrainian television and to spread the impression that Hontareva “s supposed corruption was the subject of international inquiry. Holding the hearing in the Capitol — which is open to the public — was Mack’s way of trying to give it official bona fides to an unknowing Ukrainian audience.
In announcing the event, Sergiy Taruta, a billionaire member of the Ukrainian parliament who previously served as governor of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine said that “the fact that we’re here is exactly proof that the American government, the American Congress, are not indifferent to the corruption that is today at the highest echelons of power/government.”
The province of Donetsk, also called the People’s Republic of Donetsk is the epicenter of the revolt of Russian-sponsored Ukrainians against the central government in Kiev.
Image by Kremlin.ru
Mack became a lobbyist after his defeat for the Senate in 2013. The sponsor of the non-hearing — and Mack’s lobbying client — was listed as Interconnection Commerce S.A., a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. Its only online presence was a mention in the leaked Panama Papers.
That Congress would let its rooms be rented by what might be a Kremlin front group, is itself a scandal worth investigating.