(Bloomberg) -- The website of the consulting firm that forged business contacts for Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine and Russia for more than a decade vanished suddenly after his communications were subpoenaed.
Giuliani was dubbed “America’s Mayor” because of his New York City perch in the days after 9/11, but later he built a lucrative career in the private sector as a foreign security consultant.
The genesis of many of those foreign connections was TriGlobal Strategic Ventures. The firm was set up in the U.S. in 2003 by a group of Russians and emigres from the former Soviet Union. Using the group’s network, Giuliani amassed security contracts around the globe, which continued even after he became the U.S. president’s unpaid lawyer last year.
On Tuesday, the company’s website reverted to “TGSV – Coming Soon.” On Wednesday morning, after this article was published, the site was restored, though sometimes hard to reach.
Giuliani’s contracts, and who paid for them, are now coming under heavy scrutiny by Congress as it tries to trace his shadow diplomatic work for President Donald Trump in Ukraine. House Democrats have demanded documents and communications among Giuliani, TriGlobal and its co-founder and president, Vitaly Pruss, going back to the beginning of the Trump presidency. Pruss has played a pivotal role in connecting Giuliani to the Ukrainians who make up the backbone of the House’s subpoena request.
The Democrats are moving quickly with their impeachment inquiry of Trump over his request that Ukraine investigate a political rival.
Another TriGlobal connection emerged on Tuesday. A member of the firm’s advisory board said in an interview with Bloomberg News that he was the one who invited Giuliani to a conference in Armenia where President Vladimir Putin of Russia spoke, along with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Giuliani had planned to speak but withdrew from the event after the public disclosure of his plans and those of the Russian president.
TriGlobal’s website once provided more information about that board member, Ara Abramyan. A biography in June 2016 listed him as a “very close adviser to the Russian government’s inner circle including the President and the Prime Minister.” The description disappeared from the site the next year.
Reached by phone and asked about the TriGlobal connection, Giuliani continued to direct attention elsewhere, namely on Trump’s political rival. “This is a diversion,” he told Bloomberg News. “TriGlobal is totally insignificant.”
Giuliani’s work with TriGlobal dates to at least 2005, when the firm arranged for him to meet in New York with representatives of Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works PJSC, the Russian steel producer. TriGlobal has offices in New York, London, Moscow, Kyiv, Zurich and Vienna. No one answered any of the phone numbers listed, and most weren’t working.
Some of Giuliani’s foreign contacts were chronicled in a whistle-blower complaint that touched off the congressional inquiry. According to the complaint and a rough record of a phone conversation provided by the White House, Trump asked Ukraine’s new president to dig up dirt on a leading Democrat presidential contender, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, and said twice that Giuliani would follow up. Giuliani had publicly called for such an action and met with various Ukrainian prosecutors. He also peddled discredited conspiracy theories involving the origins of the Mueller probe into Russian election interference.
The Armenian conference he was scheduled to attend was organized with the support of Russia’s Ministry of Trade and Industry; the Armenian government; Rostec State Corp., Russia’s main defense contractor; and the Eurasian Economic Union, which Putin started as a counterweight to the European Union.
Giuliani was due to speak on a panel with Sergei Glazyev, a Kremlin adviser sanctioned by the U.S. over his role in Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Giuliani spoke after Glazyev at last year’s conference, but said in an interview earlier this year that he had never met him.
Abramyan, an Armenian who says he spends time in Moscow, Europe and the U.S., denied that Giuliani’s cancellation this year had anything to do with Putin’s appearance. “We never paid him for a speech or for a visit,” Abramyan said on the sidelines of the conference in Yerevan. “He agreed to come as my friend, my good friend.”
He declined to discuss whether anyone else paid Giuliani to attend.
Abramyan said he met Giuliani decades ago when Giuliani was a federal prosecutor in New York. At the time, Abramyan asked him for an introduction to the late New York district attorney Robert Morgenthau, whose father was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
Abramyan’s Russian ties are deep. His company, JSC Soglasye, worked on the reconstruction of the Kremlin years ago.
A spokesman for the Kremlin didn’t reply to questions on Abramyan.
Pruss has worked as a consultant for Transneft PJSC, Russia’s state-owned oil pipeline operator, and a host of Russian companies, according to his biography on the TriGlobal website before it disappeared. He worked closely with Giuliani from 2008 to 2011, the site said. He declined to comment when approached at the conference in Yerevan.
They have a more recent connection, as well. Giuliani’s 2017 consulting contract in Ukraine, advising the mayor of the eastern city of Kharkiv, was paid for mostly by a local oligarch named Pavel Fuks.
According to Fuks, Pruss was their connection.
“I’ve known Pruss for a long time,” Fuks said in an interview earlier this year. “During the financial crisis, he proposed I buy some distressed assets in America.”
The House is seeking Giuliani’s communications with Pruss, Fuks and Gennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv, along with an extended list of current and former Ukrainian politicians and prosecutors.
Another is Semyon Kislin, a Ukrainian-born entrepreneur who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s. Kislin was a political bundler for Giuliani’s campaigns for mayor of New York in the 1990s, and Giuliani named him to the board of the city’s Economic Development Corp.
Kislin visited Kyiv in August and contacted Serhiy Shefir to congratulate him on his appointment as a close staffer of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, his lawyer confirmed to Bloomberg. Kislin has for years had conversations with Ukrainian officials about his investments in the country, for which he is seeking repayment.
A spokesman for Zelenskiy didn’t respond to requests for comment. Kislin’s lawyer said he had received a request. “I believe that Mr. Kislin has no information regarding any subject that is relevant to the pending inquiry,” wrote Jeffrey Dannenberg, of the New York law firm Kestenbaum, Dannenberg & Klein.
The House also wants to see all of Giuliani’s communications with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Ukrainian emigres who worked in Kyiv over the past year to dig up incriminating information on the Bidens. They’re executives at an energy company that donated $325,000 last year to a pro-Trump super PAC. The donation prompted a complaint by a non-profit watch dog accusing the company and the two businessmen of violating campaign finance laws.
(Updates with restored TriGlobal website.)
--With assistance from Caleb Melby and Polly Mosendz.
To contact the reporters on this story: Stephanie Baker in London at firstname.lastname@example.org;Sara Khojoyan in Yerevan at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Winnie O'Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org, David S. Joachim
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.