Russia funded Facebook and Twitter investments through Kushner associate

Institutions with close links to Kremlin financed stakes through business associate of Trumps son-in-law, leaked files reveal

Two Russian state institutions with close ties to Vladimir Putin funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner, leaked documents reveal.

The investments were made through a Russian technology magnate, Yuri Milner, who also holds a stake in a company co-owned by Kushner, Donald Trumps son-in-law and senior White House adviser.

The discovery is likely to stir concerns over Russian influence in US politics and the role played by social media in last years presidential election. It may also raise new questions for the social media companies and for Kushner.

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Russian investor backed Kushner

The disclosure of Milners partial backing by Russian state interests may also cause difficulties for Kushner.

Milner in 2015 contributed $850,000 from his family trustto a $50m investment in Cadre, a New-York-based company that Kushner co-founded in 2014 with his brother, Joshua, and a friend of theirs from Harvard. The startup, which the Kushners claim is worth $800m, is based around an online marketplace where wealthy financiers can club together to invest in properties.

Cadre has attracted an estimated $133m of venture capital from backers including Peter Thiel, the controversial libertarian billionaire who co-founded PayPal and backed Trumps campaign for president in 2016.

Jared
Jared Kushner. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The company has already caused controversy for Kushner, after he initially failed to detail his stake in Cadre in financial disclosures to the US Office of Government Ethics. Kushner later added Cadre to revised paperwork, saying his stake in the firm was worth up to $25m.

Cadre initially said in a June press release that Milners stake in the company was held through his firm DST. A different version of the release on Cadres website said, however, that Milner himself was the investor in Cadre. The breakdown of the $50m funding was not made public by Cadre.

Milner said in an interview that he had invested in Cadre based only on the merits of the business. I just thought it was an attractive opportunity, he said.

He said he knew Joshua Kushner and had met Jared Kushner once, at a conference in Aspen, Colorado, in autumn 2016. He was very pleasant and nice, and it was sort of a cocktail-type conversation, said Milner, adding that politics was not discussed.

Cadre operates from the Puck Building in the Nolita section of Manhattan. The Kushners father, Charles, bought the building in the 1980s before being jailed for a string of crimes including 18 counts of tax evasion. The building, a red-brick Romanesque revival, was named after the 19th-century satirical magazine based there. A gilded Puck statue, wearing a top hat and tails, gazes down on staff as they arrive for work.

Muellers inquiry is believed to be reviewing Jared Kushners finances. Kushner was questioned by US senators in July about his connections to Russia. The closed-door session followed a series of explosive reports, including that Kushner had undisclosed contacts with Sergey Kislyak, then Russias ambassador to the US.

Quick Guide

Ten key revelations from the Paradise Papers

1)Millions of pounds from the Queens private estate has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund and some of her money went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people.

2)Extensive offshore dealings by Donald Trumps cabinet members, advisers and donors, including substantial payments froma firm co-owned by Vladimir Putins son-in-law to the shipping group of the US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross.

3) HowTwitter and Facebook received hundreds of millions of dollars in investments that can be traced back to Russian state financial institutions.

4) The tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trustmanaged by the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeaus chief moneyman.

5) A previously unknown$450m offshore trust that has sheltered the wealth of Lord Ashcroft.

6) Aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, including Nike and Apple.

7) How some of the biggest names in the film and TV industries protect their wealth with an array of offshore schemes.

8) The billions in tax refunds by the Isle of Man and Malta to the owners of private jets and luxury yachts.

9) Thesecret loan and alliance used by the London-listed multinational Glencorein its efforts to secure lucrative mining rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

10) Thecomplex offshore webs used by two Russian billionairesto buy stakes in Arsenal and Everton football clubs.

In remarks at the White House in July, Kushner said he had not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.

Kushner attended a meeting at Trump Tower in June last year at which Donald Trump Jr was expecting to receive damaging information on Hillary Clinton, their Democratic opponent, which he was told had come from the Russian government. Kushner claimed he knew nothing about the meetings purpose before attending and left shortly after it began.

He has also denied reports that following his father-in-laws election victory, he proposed setting up a secure communication channel between Trumps team and Moscow to avoid snooping by the US before Trump took office. Kislyak reportedly told his superiors in Moscow, during conversations intercepted by American intelligence, that Kushner had asked for the backchannel during a meeting at Trump Tower last December.

This article was amended on 6 November 2017 to include VTBs denial that Kostin worked for the KGB.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/05/russia-funded-facebook-twitter-investments-kushner-associate

Author: Billy Roland

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