05.01.2015 Author: Henry Kamens

Ukraine: The Corrupt Will Still Get Hired Again by their Buddies

773333This story has been on the back burner quite a while. Finally it is ready to be served hot.

Millions of people around the globe know only too well how difficult it can be to enter another country to live or work. The waiting in queues, the endless paperwork, the ‘black migration’ forced even on people fleeing for their lives. Even if people win the right to stay in their new home they have to wait many more years for citizenship, or the right to vote, even if they work and pay taxes throughout and don’t break any laws.

It is therefore a sick joke to many that three foreigners have been allowed to walk into Ukraine, granted automatic citizenship and then given government posts. However, when you look at the previous track record and connections of at least one of these individuals, the reason they have all been put in such a privileged position is obvious.

Relevant experience

Ukraine’s new health minister is Alexander Kvitashvili, Sandro, a Georgian national with layers of NGO and political and intelligence community connections. He does have some slight qualification for this job, having been health minister in Georgia between 2008 and 2010, under then-President Mikheil Saakashvili. He does however lack a number of others, such as the ability to speak Ukrainian, which one might consider a prerequisite.

Kvitashvili studied and worked in the United States, not Ukraine, before becoming Georgia’s health minister. It can be reasonably assumed that the millions of healthcare users in Ukraine have more understanding of the country’s health services than he does. However he has the advantage of coming from the country which sent a band of several dozen thugs and mercenaries disguised as “election observers” to try and disrupt the last presidential election won by Viktor Yanukovich, who was of course removed by other means later.

In a recent article renowned political scientist William Engdahl provided some interesting background on Sandro and his wife’s qualifications. The article was derived from a number of trusted sources in Georgia, including Jeffrey Silverman, Bureau Chief for Veterans Today, who has a good reputation for uncovering corruption in humanitarian organisations and has worked closely with governmental investigators over the years in unmasking high level corruption, mostly with the Office of Inspector General, OIG, the criminal investigative wing of the US government.

Silverman states that Sandro was the “corrupt-of-the-corrupt” when working with UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee for Relief, when it was the main money and arms transfer agency pretending to offer “humanitarian aid” in Georgia in the 1990s. The only other person there who was in his league as was his wife, Nicole Jordania.

Kvitashvili and his wife have direct links with Art Keyes and Associates, a contactor which worked for many years in Georgia and later ended up in the middle of the assistance pipeline in Afghanistan, as described in detail by the Washington Post. 

According to US sources with experience of Georgia, “Keys and Associates and various Georgian nationals got rich off various State Department funded projects that they first did in Georgia, and this was with high level protection from the then Clinton Whitehouse. They were feeding from a combination of State Department and USAID grants and funding lines, including the proceeds from the sale of surprise US Department of Agriculture surplus products under its “Food for Peace” program.”

As Silverman puts it, “Art Keys was in Georgia, late nineties and involved with stealing millions from US State Department and USAID – and this was under the umbrella of UMCOR and first with a State Department Medical program. This is the slush fund that was first used to fund the Pankisi Gorge – and one woman aid worker was murdered over this, apparently after she left Georgia. This relates to how money was also put into Georgian banks at high interest rates and then big kickbacks and USG showed that sale of USDA vegetable oil was receiving 9 percent on interest when it was close to 20 percent, a very sweet deal. The difference was pocketed by staff members and shared with intelligence agencies. Such mechanisms, funding under the US Department of Agriculture’s “Food for Peace Project” were also carried out in Armenia with similar levels of corruption. However, upon investigation, no indictments were made when it was realised that the funding was being used to support Chechen terrorists—US policy at the time.”

One of the leading Chechen terrorist commanders currently active with ISIL is Imran Akhmadov, who was previously reported dead. He was probably reported dead because he has since been revealed as a CIA operative personally controlled by Nicole Jordania, Kvitashvili’s wife. She was responsible for controlling him during at least part of the 17 years she herself says she worked for USAID, which has often been linked to covert CIA operations in recipient countries under cover of administering State Department development aid.

The OIG is still investigating Kvitashvili and his wife. The US government is fully aware of their history, and that is why Sandro was posted to Ukraine to bolster the “humanitarian mission” of replacing its elected government with one which can finish the job previous “saviour” Viktor Yushchenko tried and failed to impose on an unwilling electorate.

Fingers and pies

It might be argued that these “outside activities” could have ended when the Kvitashvilis were in Georgia and therefore have nothing to do with Sandro’s new health portfolio. The record however suggests otherwise.

Whilst Health Minister of Georgia Kvitashvili was in charge of the privatisation of clinics and other medical related facilities, including blood banks and the main eye clinic. These were sold for token amounts, in contravention of his brief and the tenders offered, to buyers who each had a connection with the impartial minister, or rapidly developed them.

In this official capacity he and his former Deputy, Koka Pruidze, set up a not-too-sophisticated kickback scheme. In 2010 Pruidze was indicted for buying vaccines for three times the going price, according to sources in the Georgian Chamber of Control. Kvitashvili let him take the fall, even though the mechanics of the procurement process meant that he could only have taken this action with his minister’s knowledge.

The prosecutor’s office alleged that Pruidze had received a USD 25,000 bribe in exchange for setting up the inflated purchase. The founder of the firm N-Pharma+, who was also arrested for alleged involvement in this scheme, told investigators that Pruidze received the USD 25,000 but the sum had been handed over to a middleman.

Was this a one-off incident? Another source, former CIA, has described how two (now failed) Georgian banks were involved in washing money as part of the elaborate scam “mechanism” involving USDA surplus vegetable oil during the time Sandro was working for UMCOR. The mechanism involved making up fake tax IDs.

Again, such a scheme could only have been set up with Kvitashvili’s knowledge, as the murky world of Georgian tax, in which innocent people have been charged with non-existent offences time and again, can only be circumvented by Georgian nationals with the right connections. The same sort who end up in government, in fact, when they are too compromised to be any threat to those already there.

Whilst Health Minister Sandro Kvitashvili was also involved with medical services/international development firm Curatio which was created by UMCOR employees, with a board consisting almost entirely of UMCOR employees, and established using UMCOR funds which came directly from US State Department medical programme start up grants.

Sandro Kvitashvili became the second or third ranking person in Curatio the moment he left UMCOR. Curatio then obtained all kinds of contracts from UMCOR, USAID and other international organisations, including some for public health related research.

This gravy train did not stop with petty amounts. Eventually the OIG was forced to conduct its cleanup investigation. This “self-directed corruption”, conducted by the Health Minister, was interfering with the actual programme of using this money for funding covert operations and political purposes such as buying votes in Georgian elections. This wasn’t exactly said, but the accounts are a matter of record.

When questions were first asked about his new appointment in Ukraine, it was reported that “Yatsenyuk has tasked Kvitashvili with introducing sweeping reforms to tackle rampant corruption among health authorities.” If his previous record gives any indication at all that he is interested in, or capable of, doing such a thing, the level of corruption in Ukraine’s health service must be significantly greater than any corruption, anywhere, at any time in human history.

Partners in health

With regard to the other appointments, Engdahl says:

“[The new ministers are] Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius (Lithuania), Finance Minister Natalia Jaresko (United States) and Health Minister Aleksandr Kvitashvili (Georgia). Naming foreigners to such key posts has caused great interest around the world. The posts of Economy Minister and Finance Minister could be explained. Washington’s people at Victoria Nuland’s State Department and US Treasury wanted their hand-picked technocrats in the inside to oversee the rape of the Ukraine economy with help of the Washington-controlled IMF.”

Is this an exaggeration? Maybe we should recall previous IMF interventions in places such as Argentina which have helped the US change or enslave the national government but not helped the country concerned economically or otherwise. We should recall that the key personnel involved in planning and executing these each had links with the Soros Foundation, a supposedly humanitarian agency.

Sandro Kvitashvili was also once rector of Tbilisi State University and responsible for the dumbing down of the academic programme and getting rid of any professors who did not toe the official line. He made sure that academic freedom was something that is only talked about, existed in theory only, and there would be none of that under Saakashvili and his US handpicked government.

Things got so bad there that on one occasion the students rioted because the university had published and launched a book called “Holy Crap” which linked religious observance with pornography, which a student had been paid to write. The Liberty Institute, an NGO, approved all the appointments at the university, who was to be hired and who was to be fired whilst Sandro was rector, not the academic authorities. Sandro wanted it that way. The Liberty Institute is funded by the Soros Foundation.

It has already been pointed out that the leading terrorists involved in US-supported operations are actually part of the same group of US-trained ethnic Chechens, who are simply shunted around from one trouble spot to another. The US has clearly been encouraged by the success of this operation. Ukraine is the first assignment of its new white collar equivalent.

Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.