Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov blasted the United States for "crudely" trying to recruit Russian oligarchs, after the New York Times published a Friday article accusing the Obama DOJ of unsuccessfully trying to recruit "roughly a half-dozen of Russia's richest men" between 2014 and 2016.
The attempt to flip Mr. Deripaska was part of a broader, clandestine American effort to gauge the possibility of gaining cooperation from roughly a half-dozen of Russia’s richest men, nearly all of whom, like Mr. Deripaska, depend on President Vladimir V. Putin to maintain their wealth, the officials said.
The systematic effort to win the cooperation of the oligarchs, which has not previously been revealed, does not appear to have scored any successes. And in Mr. Deripaska’s case, he told the American investigators that he disagreed with their theories about Russian organized crime and Kremlin collusion in the campaign, a person familiar with the exchanges said. The person added that Mr. Deripaska even notified the Kremlin about the American efforts to cultivate him. -NYT
Commenting on the report, Peskov said:
"The fact is that the US in recent years is working crudely using its intelligence services, trying to recruit Russian citizens, exerting moral and other pressure on them … I think these incidents in the most eloquent manner testify to the attempts to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs " -Reuters
Of course, the FBI was able to convince Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska to spend $25 million of his own money to bankroll an FBI-supervised operation to rescue a retired FBI agent - Robert Levinson, who was captured in 2007 while working on a 2007 CIA contract in Iran.
Deripaska agreed, however the Obama State Department, headed by Hillary Clinton, scuttled a last-minute deal with Iran before Levinson could be released. He hasn't been heard from since.
FBI agents courted Deripaska in 2009 in a series of secret hotel meetings in Paris; Vienna; Budapest, Hungary, and Washington. Agents persuaded the aluminum industry magnate to underwrite the mission. The Russian billionaire insisted the operation neither involve nor harm his homeland. -The Hill
Deripaska has been accused of being Donald Trump's "back channel" to Putin through short-lived Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, however he has vehemently denied this charge and is willing to testify that he also had nothing to do with the infamous "Steele Dossier" assembled by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele.
A longtime associate of twice-demoted DOJ #4 official Bruce Ohr, Steele worked for Deripaska beginning in 2012 researching a business rival - work which would evolve to the point where the former British spy was interfacing with the Obama administration on his behalf - resulting in Deripaska regaining entry into the United States, where he visited numerous times between 2009 and 2017.
The State Department tried to keep him from getting a U.S. visa between 2006 and 2009 because they believed he had unspecified connections to criminal elements in Russia as he consolidated power in the aluminum industry. Deripaska has denied those allegations...
Whatever the case, it is irrefutable that after he began helping the FBI, Deripaska regained entry to the United States. And he visited numerous times between 2009 and 2017, visa entry records show. -The Hill
Deripaska is now banned from the United States as one of several Russians sanctioned in April in response to alleged 2016 election meddling.