By Stelios Orphanides
George Papadopoulos, one of Donald Trump’s campaign advisers during last year’s presidential campaign, who has pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is not an adviser to President Nicos Anastasiades, contrary to what he claims, a source said on Monday.
Papadopoulos has a reference in his Linked-in profile where he claims to be “currently a member of the International Presidential Business Advisory Council (IPBAC)”. Several government sources interviewed by the Cyprus Business Mail on Monday denied that Papadopoulos ever advised or even met Anastasiades, claims which are corroborated by the secretary of IPBAC, John Georgoulas.
“We don’t even know him, we never met and there has never been any contact,” Georgoulas said.
The only exception, he continued, was when international media which read the reference to IPBAC in Papadopoulos’s Linked-in profile and subsequently contacted its secretary to inquire about council’s relation to Papadopoulos. According to press reports, Papadopoulos proposed that Trump should seek to establish contact to the “Russian leadership, including Putin” as early as in March 2016.
“I then sent him a message via Linked-in requesting that he removed the reference to the council,” Georgoulas said, a request that Papadopoulos apparently ignored.
According to Georgoulas, the council was established on the initiative of Cypriot businessman Efthymios Paraskevaides right after the 2013 crisis to advise the president on economy and business-related matters and not geopolitics. All its members, he said, are all non-Cypriots, “in order to avoid bias”.
Background information about Papadopoulos, is conflicting. Cypriot media introduced him last year as a Cypriot American advising Trump. In an interview with Phileleftheros published days after the November US presidential elections -and apparently given as early as early last year- Papadopoulos was introduced as a Greek American with his family hailing from Thesaloniki.
The Russia collusion story has also touched Cyprus in other ways, where a number of companies linked to Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who turned himself in to the FBI on Monday, were headquartered.
Manafort, who resigned from the Trump campaign in August 2016 after it emerged that he failed to disclose previous work for Ukraine’s toppled ex-president Viktor Yanukovych, became early on a target of the FBI’s investigation into probable ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The FBI raided his home in July as part of the probe.
Manafort and his aide Rick Gates, both arraigned at a federal court in Washington DC, are facing 12 charges including money laundering charges and acting as unregistered foreign agents. They both pleaded not-guilty and were placed under house arrest.
Robert Mueller, the former head of FBI who was appointed head of the investigation, said that Papadopoulos had lied about the timing of the contact he had with an unspecified foreign professor in London who also claimed to have damaging information on Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton.
In August, a Bank of Cyprus source said that Manafort maintained no accounts with the bank. While he maintained accounts with Cyprus Popular Bank, the operations of which Bank of Cyprus absorbed in March 2013, most of those accounts had been closed by 2012. Bank of Cyprus had inherited three accounts associated to Manafort.
Those three accounts “were flagged and reported to (Law Office’s anti-money laundering squad) Mokas before they were ultimately terminated because of suspicious activity” already in 2014, a year before Trump had announced his intention to run for president, the Bank of Cyprus source said.
In June last year, Manafort and Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, who also worked for Prevezon Holdings, a Cyprus-based company implicated in the Magnitsky case, participated in a meeting in Trump Tower in New York. Emails show that Trump Jr agreed to host the meeting after an acquaintance promised to also provide damaging information on Clinton.