Sunday, 16 April 2017

Mike Goes to Cyprus

This week....not widely reported....but a Democrat House member (Rep Mike Quigley (Ill)) flew off to Cyprus.  He's on the House Intelligece Committee, and he's gone to Cyprus because...."thats where Russians launder money."  He believes he will gather intelligence and data on Trump's former campaign chairman....Paul Manfort and his work in eastern Europe.

What we expect out of this fact-finding mission to Cyprus?

First, he'll likely fly business class all the way into Frankfurt....board one of about a dozen airlines which fly into the small island of Cyprus.  The airlines are: Bulgaria Air, Air Moldova, Alitalia, KLM, LOT, Air Malta, Pegasus, Czech Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Aeroflot, and five or six no-name airlines.

Mike will probably be shocked that the ticket his folks bought in just a passenger only ticket, and he'll have to pay 30-Euro for his bag (one-way).  He might also be shocked at the quality of the airlines involved, and that half of them don't offer a direct flight to Cyprus....which means he'll have to spend five hours in some no-name airport, and this whole expedition to Cyprus takes 22 hours from DC.

So, Mike will arrive at one of the only two airports on Cyprus....Larnaca or Paphos.  Hopefully, they picked Larnaca (that's the capital city).  Paphos is about 90 minutes away from Larnaca.

Right off the bat.....Mike will discover that almost no banker in Larnaca will talk with him, period.

Then, Mike will discover that the Cyprus government folks aren't that willing to talk to him either.

The US embassy?  They will bring out their economics expert and maybe have a hour-long chat which centers mostly around rumors....scuttlebutt.....hearsay....and gossip.

The CIA guy?  He'll mostly chat about his secret investigations....which indicate that virtually every single bank in Cyprus is deep into Russia money, and that billions come in each month, and flow out. Then he'll list out forty-odd lobbyists in Fairfax, Virginia....some deep into Republican and Democratic circles....who might be getting some piece of the action.  Mike would prefer not to hear about the Democratic lobbyists in this episode.

Mike will eventually come to realize that Cyprus isn't your normal corrupted government or country.  It's much like the US.  People have money...they want service....they pay for your service....and you perform.

It's at this point that Mike will realize this whole trip to Cyprus was just a wasted trip, but will enjoy the excellent five-star hotel that he spent five nights in.  He might also come to note that they have lousy water pressure, and you aren't allowed to put toilet paper into the toilet, but instead into the trash can....which kinda stinks up the room.

Mike will also probably consume a fair amount of Zivania....which is a brandy-like drink. The locals will tell you that Zivania started out (hundreds of years ago) to treat wounds or to massage into sore body joints.  Then, folks discovered it was great for colds and flu.  Then folks discovered it was great for toothaches.  Then folks discovered it was great for a heated-drink during winter periods.  Then finally, folks discovered it was a great drink to offer visitors or guests.  Note, while it does come in watered-down versions.....the typical bottle you'd pick up at the grocery will be 45-proof.  So just three or four shots of the stuff will get you going, and if you had ten to fifteen'd be in no condition to do much of anything.

Then Mike will return to DC, and chat for weeks about his fact-finding mission to Cyprus.  Eventually, some of the DC lobbyists who get funding from Cyprus....will come to visit Mike and try to get him to see a practical side to Cyprus, and put a bit of money into his campaign chest.

Here's the simple truth.  The Russian billionaires discovered that Cyprus had a wide-open door, and banks which weren't regulated very much.  The Russians didn't want to put their money into Moscow banks....because it's just not safe.  Financially, it only makes sense.  So Cyprus found that investment money into condo construction....resort hotels....and shipping companies....were all helped by this flow of money.  You can call it money-laundering but there's all this positive stuff going on, so why get bent out of shape?  The billionaires have their money in a safe place, and they get to move it around.  Putin and state-sponsored work?  No, that's the amusing thing about this whole story.  It's a bunch of rich the New York City rich guy crowd, or the Miami rich guy crowd, or the Chicago rich guy crowd.....just protecting their money.

The cost of this Mike expedition to Cyprus?  I'd take a guess over $10,000 will have been spent on this.