The FBI is investigating a series of monetary transactions between the Russian foreign ministry and its embassy in Washington D.C., with the funds passing through a Kremlin-backed bank, according to a new report from Buzzfeed.
Federal authorities started looking into the matter when they became aware of one of these wire transfers, valued at $30,000, which had landed in the Russian embassy’s Citibank account, per Buzzfeed.
The transaction may have fallen under the radar, if not for the memo that was attached, which read that the money was intended “to finance election campaign of 2016.”
Yeah. You read that right. This transaction practically begged to be noticed by the FBI with a memo like that. The Russian foreign ministry must have thought “for meddling on behalf of our leader, Vladimir Putin” was a bit too conspicuous.
Once the FBI started digging, they found dozens of similar transactions, 60 in total, amounting to over $380,000. Most of these transfers contained the same memo, or something similar that referenced the 2016 election.
An unnamed FBI special agent suggested that there could be a perfectly logical explanation for the transactions but, given political realities and the suspicious nature of the memo line, they had to investigate.
“How could we not investigate a suspicious financial transaction that contained a memo that said, ‘finance election campaign 2016?’ Given the climate and what was in that memo line it would be very irresponsible for us not to investigate,” the agent said. “It’s a good lead.”
Citibank has been working with federal authorities, uncovering more than 650 other transactions attached to “suspicious activity.” These transactions, totaling $2.9 million, were sent to a series of Russian Citibank accounts operating in the United States, including the embassy and the Office of Defense, Military, Air and Naval Attaches.
The FBI, along with congressional investigators, are taking a closer look at each of these transactions. Officials with the Russian embassy and the Russian foreign ministry have yet to comment on the matter.
Read the full report here.
[image via screenshot]