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Event was arranged by a former U.S. lawmaker with ties to leading Ukrainian and Hungarian politicos.4 October 2017
A meeting at the U.S. Capitol was falsely portrayed to Ukrainian television viewers as an official Congressional event on corruption inside Ukraine’s central bank, according to a U.S. conservative weekly.
On 25 September, Ukraine’s NewsOne channel teased that evening’s live-streamed broadcast of a meeting of the “U.S. Congressional Committee on Financial Issues.”
But although the event was held in a basement meeting room at the Capitol, no congressional committee had anything to do with it, writes The Weekly Standard’s reporter, who attended.
And although former CIA Director James Woolsey spoke, the purpose of the event remains as unclear as the motivation of its organizers.
The meeting room was reserved by Kansas Republican Congressman Ron Estes on behalf of fellow Republican former legislator Connie Mack IV, now a lobbyist whose clients have included the party of Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban.
The event was open only to invited guests, The Weekly Standard says, and was called to highlight problems at the Ukrainian National Bank (NBU).
Panelists included billionaire Ukrainian politician Serhiy Taruta and a former employee of the NBU. Guests were handed a report by Taruta on the activities of the NBU’s former director, Valeriya Hontareva, who stepped down in May.
Mack and lobbying partner Matt Keelen also sat on the panel. In May, Mack registered as a lobbyist for Interconnection Commerce S.A. to raise awareness of “corruption within the National Bank of Ukraine.” The firm lists addresses in the British Virgin Islands and Latvia but otherwise “has no online presence,” Politico wrote.
Mack served as a Republican congressman from Florida between 2005 and 2013. During the event he “implied he is still a member of Congress,” The Daily Beast writes. He did not reply to requests for comment.
“The event on Capitol Hill about the National Bank of Ukraine was not a congressional hearing,” Dmytro Shymkiv, the deputy head of the office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, wrote in an email to The Weekly Standard, adding, “The discussion was held without public scrutiny and was sponsored by a secret source.”
Estes’s spokesman said neither the congressman nor his aides attended the meeting. U.S. Capitol guidelines for such events require the member of Congress or an aide to attend, according to the Washington politics site Roll Call.
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