Posts Tagged ‘Steve Bannon’

Via WMR

Former Donald Trump chief strategist and 2016 campaign manager Steve Bannon has become a neo-Nazi frequent flyer. Bannon established his organization, known simply as “The Movement,” with the help of some far-right Belgian politicians. In a worrying trend, The Movement is forging close ties with far-right parties and politicians around the world, including Brazil’s incoming president, Jair Bolsonaro, an admitted admirer of Adolf Hitler.

“The Movement,” a secretariat of neo-Nazi and fascist parties is headquartered in Brussels in the same suburban Brussels estate that houses the far-right Parti Populaire, which is led by Mischaël Modrikamen. Modrikamen was the only Belgian political leader to have endorsed Trump in 2016. Modrikamen also rejects a Palestinian state and his party refers to the West Bank by its Israeli names, Judea and Samaria.

Modrikamen’s association with Bannon is emblematic of the current alliance between the Israeli right-wing political establishment and fascist and neo-Nazi parties around the world. Modrikamen’s Jewish father, Marcel, was arrested in Belgium at the age of 16 by the Gestapo for being a member of the Belgian Resistance to Nazi occupation. While many neo-Nazi parties support the right-wing government of Israel and the Jewish settlers in the West Bank, they launch anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish targets in their home countries. This paradox was satirized by a cartoon in the Belgian weekly, Le Vif. The cartoon shows Bannon, surrunded by flies, telling a puzzled Modrikamen, “First, we de-Jew Europe.”

The “strange bedfellows” accommodation is reminiscent of the concordat established between Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s and Naftali Lubenchik’s “Revisionist Zionist” of the 1930s and 40s and Nazi Germany. The Lehi movement, also known as the Stern Gang, favored a Revisionist Zionist alliance with Adolf Hitler to drive the British out of the Palestine mandate territory. The Lehi Movement later morphed into the present-day Likud Party of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In late 1940, the Lehi met with a Nazi diplomat in Beirut to discuss increased Jewish immigration from Europe to Palestine, in contravention of British caps on immigration to the mandate territory. The German diplomat, Werner Otto von Hentig, an admirer of Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, managed to convince Hitler to remove all obstacles to increased Jewish migration from Europe to Palestine via Yugoslav and Greek ports. This was known as the Haavara (Transfer) Agreement. Von Hentig later became an adviser to the Saudi royal family.

The primary goal of The Movement is to upend next year’s elections for the European Parliament. Because national laws in nine European Union countries ban the infusion of foreign cash and in-kind donations of support to political campaigns, including the campaign advice that Bannon’s Movement is offering, Bannon must carry out his work on the fringes of the laws. Although Bannon’s organization is based in Brussels, he sees the UK, which will soon depart the EU, as the best base of operations from which to launch his “Fourth Reich” alliance of fascist parties on the European mainland. Bannon’s political infrastructure in Britain centers around anti-European Union UK Independence Party founder Nigel Farage and Farage’s one-time chief adviser, Raheem Kassam.

Four EU countries that allow foreign campaign help — Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark — are where Bannon is concentrating his efforts to elect far-right candidates as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Bannon has established a working relationship with the governing Fidesz Party in Hungary; Matteo Salvini, the Italian Interior Minister and leader of the League party; Dutch Party of Freedom leader Geert Wilders; the far-right Vox party in Spain; Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter; the National Rally of Marine Le Pen in France; and the governing Law and Justice of Poland. Bannon has established links with the Italian fascist party, Brothers of Italy, and its leader, Giorgia Meloni. Bannon has also forged ties with far-right politicians in Switzerland, which is not an EU member, and far-right white Afrikaner groups like the Suidlanders.

Right-wingers, some the children and grandchildren of the white Rhodesian diaspora around the world, others neo-Nazi and white supremacists, are championing a return of white minority rule to Zimbabwe, the former white-ruled Rhodesia. Slogans like “Make Zimbabwe Rhodesia Again” are appearing on social media. Bannon also has links to the resurgent Rhodesian diaspora movement.

Although the United States and Britain have laws preventing foreign cash infusions into their political campaigns, Bannon and his associates, including British right-wing businessman Arron Banks, were able to skirt those laws. In 2015, Bannon was able to funnel money and assistance to Banks’s Leave.EU campaign. The vehicle was Bannon’s and the Mercers’ Cambridge Analytica. The UK-based Cambridge Analytica and its sister firm, SCL Elections, both defunct, are under investigation by Britain’s Parliament, National Crime Agency, and the UK Electoral Commission for illegally laundering foreign funds into the Brexit campaign in 2015 and 2016. Similarly, Cambridge Analytica is under investigation by U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller for acting as an interface between the Trump campaign and foreign interests.

In recent weeks, Bannon has spoken at the Oxford Union in England, despite Oxford University protests that saw picket signs bearing the messages “Fascists Not Welcome,” “Racist Bannon Not Welcome Here,” ‘Steve Bannon Out of Oxford,” and “Kick Racism Off Our Campus.” Earlier this month, Bannon appeared at a debate in Toronto, sponsored by the Aurea Foundation, a charitable organization established by Barrick Gold founder Peter Munk. Protesters in the audience unfurled a banner that read, “No Hate. No Bigotry. No Place for Bannon’s White Supremacy.”

Bannon was also invited to speak at the News Xchange conference in Edinburgh. When she discovered that Bannon was one of the conference speakers, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon withdrew from participation in the event. Bannon was greeted by protest signs, such as “Nae Nazis.”

Where Bannon is obtaining the funds to travel throughout Europe, pushing his fascist movement, has many governments inquiring about his funding sources. Ironically, Bannon claims a large portion of his personal fortune arises from his owning partial rights to the sitcom Seinfeld, a program whose Jewish actors and characters might seem anathema to Bannon’s friends in the neo-Nazi movement.

Bannon was a key player in the former election manipulation firm, Cambridge Analytica, which was behind the malfeasance involved in the 2016 Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Bannon also co-founded the right-wing Breitbart News in 2006. Cambridge Analytica and Breitbart received financial support from billionaire hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer. Bannon’s Belgian partner’s wife, Yasmine Dehaene, serves as Secretary General of her husband’s Parti Populaire. She was also executive director of the alliance of far-right parties in the European Parliament, the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE). Campaign financing violations and in-fighting within the UK Independence Party of Trump’s and Bannon’s colleague, Farage, saw the ADDE ultimately collapse.

In December 2016, a little over a month after Trump’s election, Dahaene was in Israel,along with her husband, to speak at the second Jerusalem Leaders Summit, an invitation-only event. The first summit, in 2015, also featured Dahaene and her ADDE as participants, along with the right-wing Heritage Foundation of the United States. The Modrikamens are frequent travelers to Israel.

Participating in the 2016 summit were Representative David Brat of Virginia and Republican Representative-elect Scott Taylor of Virginia — Republicans, who were recently defeated by Democrats — Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked; Becky Norton Dunlop of the Heritage Foundation and Trump’s presidential transitional team; UKIP MEPs Bill Etheridge, Paul Nuttall, Roger Helmer, and Ray Finch; and Sanford Saunders, Co-Managing Shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, the one-time Washington, DC law firm of disgraced and convicted Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

It seems unlikely that Bannon’s operations in Europe and his high-cost travel — involving private planes, chauffeured vehicles, and expensive luxury hotels — to Paris, London, Rome, Venice, Lyon, Prague, Edinburgh, and other cities are being underwritten by partial royalties from Seinfeld re-runs. The Mercers claim they cut Bannon off after his stint as Trump’s chief strategist in the White House. There are reports that Trump, who calls Bannon “Sloppy Steve” — a reference to Bannon’s often unshaven and unkempt appearance — still communicate via the phone. It is also widely believed that Bannon continues to have an interest in the follow-on companies to Cambridge Analytica, which include Emerdata and Auspex International. Although there are multiple denials by the principals, Bannon and his election manipulation associates, who have monetized psychographic data mined from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, are believed to have played a part in the electoral wins of Bolsonaro in Brazil and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Pakistan.

Many Americans and Europeans seem to believe that Bannon is a mere caricature of an obese modern-day Hermann Goering. He is much more dangerous. The “Movement” he represents has financial links going back to the U.S.-run “rat lines” that spirited Nazis out of Europe, including places like Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia, and ultimately to South America, Canada, and the United States. Many settled in Bannon’s native southern California, where they became active in the right-wing “Captive Nations” movement that allied with far-right groups like the John Birch Society and Young Americans for Freedom. While there may not be lost “Nazi gold” financing Bannon’s operations, there are generational links to the old Nazis who are assisting Trump’s former “brain.” One of these is Sebastian Gorka, the Hungarian-British-American who worked with Bannon at the White House before both were fired. Gorka holds the Hungarian Order of Vitéz, a medal awarded by the pro-Nazi regime in Hungary to Hungarians who fought with the Nazis against the Allies in World War II. Gorka’s father, Paul Gorka, also holds the order.

What is needed in Europe and other countries being wooed by Bannon and his so-called “populists,” a feel-good cover name for Nazis and fascists, is a popular front reminiscent of that cobbled together in the 1930s and 40s by Europe’s socialists, social democrats, communists, and radical liberals to fight against the Nazis and fascists. The Popular Fronts of Europe not only had to battle against the far-right, but the Trotskyists, who wanted to totally dominate leftist united fronts and exclude bourgeois parties like the liberals. Often, the Popular Fronts were rendered ineffective by internal division, particularly in Germany, Spain, and France.

Today, the left in the United States has its own Trojan horses in “boutique” parties like the Greens and Libertarians, that cooperate with right-wing Republicans to deny electoral victories to the Democrats. Europe must learn how to be smarter than Bannon and his cohorts in combating the resurgence of Nazism and fascism.

Trump's campaign chief Steve Bannon

Trump’s campaign chief Steve Bannon

“There’s a secret world all around us. You just don’t see it unless you know where to look”
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When Donald Trump’s campaign manager Steve Bannon was recently exposed for using a vacant house in Miami as his legal residence, he hastily changed his legal address to a beach house in Sarasota, Florida owned by a writer at his Breitbart.com website.

His hurried move— made more urgent by Trump’s adoption of ‘voter fraud’ as one of his signature issues— has unexpectedly given a gift that keeps on giving to investigators probing the financing of the newly-emergent “Alt-Right.”

America’s “most dangerous political operative”

Bannon, who Bloomberg recently called The Most Dangerous Political Operative in America, had repaired to a beach house owned by Andy Badolato, who claims on his website to be an “entrepreneur, senior level executive, venture capitalist and seed stage investor” who has founded companies with a market cap of $26 billion dollars.”

However an investigation reveals that Bannon’s buddy and roommate Badolato has long-time links to a nest of financial fraudsters that raise questions of whether money taken from investors through Badolato’s series of stock scams — which operated on an almost industrial scale—had been pocketed by financiers of the Breitbart.com-led “alt-right.”

The group of racketeers, swindlers and flimflam men may even have links to fraudsters in Southern California associated with a man who has been profiled here on many occasions.

Does anyone remember disgraced Republican Congressman Randy “Duke ” Cunningham?

Fleecing Haitian immigrants for fun and profit

Andy Badolato was involved in a stock fraud cum Ponzi scheme at a Palm Beach Gardens, Florida company, Industrial Business Ventures Group, (IBVG), where he was Senior Vice President of Corporate Finance.

Two of his partners in the scheme —Jonathan Curshen and Michael Muzio— are currently in federal prison. Both men were also involved, oddly enough, in the drug trafficking ring in St. Petersburg, Florida responsible for the ill-fated ‘drug move’ resulting in the biggest drug seizure on an airplane in Mexican history, 5.5 tons of cocaine, found on an American-registered DC-9 busted in the Yucatan in April of 2006.

Alt-right Sarasota beachcomber Badolato’s fellow Sarasota resident Jonathan Curshen was profiled in a story here last week.

“Curshen is the most intriguing. He is a dual citizen of England and the United States,” reported Off-shore Alert. “He resides in Sarasota, Fla., and Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, he serves as honorary consul for St. Kitts & Nevis. He also serves as honorary consul for “New Utopia,” a sham country that exists only in cyberspace. It publicly offers ‘citizenships,’ ‘national flags,’ ID cards and currency.”

A look at Badolato’s second partner in the scheme, Tampa resident Michael Muzio, exposes a checkered past and criminal curriculum vitae every bit as colorful as Curshen.

“Andy’s Web”

Muzio and Badolato’s company was involved in what was called “a classic Ponzi scheme,” made even more despicable because it targeted poor Haitian immigrants.

According to an FBI press release announcing Muzio’s conviction, the scheme “stripped $14.3 million from more than 600 gullible investors, most of them Haitian-Americans in South Florida and New Jersey.”

“Muzio issued false and misleading press releases,” said the FBI, claiming International Business Ventures Group had deals to offer pre-paid debit cards and pre-paid calling cards in Haiti, where the company also had exclusive rights to market pre-paid electric meters.

Muzio once complained to “colleagues” about how costly it was to run a stock scam, Palm Beach Business magazine reported. “He’s about to find out exactly how expensive it can be when you get caught.”

For his part in the fraud Muzio was sentenced to 163 months in prison.

Muzio may have been a little preoccupied

In what authorities like to think is a relatively unusual situation for a corporate officer, Michael Muzio also found himself the target of a Mob hit. Testimony in an extortion trial in Tampa named Muzio as the intended victim of a Mafia hit ordered by a business associate, Joseph Forlizzo of Queens, and Clearwater, Florida.

The Forlizzo brothers contracted Muzio’s murder, court testimony revealed, with Anthony “Pee Wee” Lanza, a captain in New York’s Genovese Mafia crime family.

“Pee Wee” was involved, according to the NY Daily News, in everything from prostitution, where he was running “a high heel-clicking stream of hookers reporting to the upper East Side headquarters of a mob-controlled prostitution ring,” to extortion, for threatening to beat a man to death if he didn’t pay up a Genovese crime family loan.”

Forlizzo, a chiropractor, had been partners with Muzio in a magnetic resonance imaging company in Clearwater. Deciding the partnership was unsatisfactory, Forlizzo took certain ‘measures,’ which became the center focus during his trial, which was filled with accusations of Mafia ties, hit men and extortion.

Testimony showed that Forlizzo and the “boys from New York” decided to kill Muzio and have another man, Philip ‘Philly’ Bova, of Largo, Florida, pose as Muzio to empty his bank accounts.

Court transcripts offered little explanation for why Muzio ‘needed killing,’ or ‘had it coming,’ two often-cited reasons for contract hits.

But when officers of public companies need key man insurance against the prospect of being rubbed out, business almost invariably suffers.

In a cautionary note, Tampa Mob expert Scott Deitche, author of Cigar Store Mafia reports that Pee Wee, after being convicted of extortion, died in prison.

“A troubled existence”

Andy Badolato’s companies have all floundered like unwanted babies flung off a cliff. But Industrial Business Ventures Group had a particularly troubled business life, facing problems most new concerns never encounter, like attrition, which became an issue when Muzio and three of the company’s officers went to prison at the same time.

Muzio, called “a Tampa businessman” in news accounts, was at the time on probation for a 2006 grand larceny conviction in New York.

“The Saga Ends In Jail” was the headline on an article by one stock analyst:

“The fact that the company has been involved in suspicious schemes should be of no surprise to people who have spent time to review the biography of the company’s management team. All three of them: Brian Taglieri, Abner Alable, and Ronnie Bass, are currently in jail facing their sentences.”

Initially, the trio started its business as an investment club called HomePals, based in North Miami Beach. In the spring of 2008, HomePals managed to strip almost $14.5 million from hundreds of Haitians living in Florida and New Jersey by means of a Ponzi-like scheme.

Then in July 2008, HomePals bought International Business Ventures Group, which until then was a public shell company. The larceny…involved pumping up IBVR stock price as much as possible and then dumping it on the public.

As his trial was about to start, Ronnie Bass, 36, of Delray Beach, pleaded no contest to 14 charges in connection with the Homepals Investment Club. He faced 20 years in prison.

Multi-tasking “hyena pack” big in stock fraud, drug trafficking

The real question is the one asked in “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid:” Who are these guys?

In addition to Mob links, we will see hints of U.S. intelligence involvement. Does Steve Bannon have national security ties?

According to Bloomberg News, Bannon joined the Navy right after college, and then spent four years at sea, including working as a navigator in the north Arabian Sea during the Iranian hostage crisis. He left the Persian Gulf just as the ill-fated U.S. mission to rescue the hostages in Tehran, Desert One, died in the sands of the Iranian desert.

Bannon became an assistant to the chief of Naval operations at the Pentagon, earned a master’s degree in national security studies at Georgetown University at night, then headed to Wall Street, where he went to work at Goldman Sachs. There he worked on a series of leveraged buyouts, including a deal involving Bain Capital and Mitt Romney.

“The camaraderie was amazing,” he told reporter Jeff Goldberg “It was like being in the Navy, in the wardroom of a ship.”

The subject of rogue U.S. intel assets joining the Mob in widespread stock fraud warrants careful consideration. According to L.J. Kolb’s “Overworld,” an eye-opening account of growing up as the son of an American spy: “There’s a secret world all around us. You just don’t see it unless you know where to look.”