The shocking victory of real-estate mogul Donald Trump becoming the 45th President-elect of the United State of America is partly being attributed to that FBI Director James Comey’s announcement of a new investigation against rival Hillary Clinton two weeks before polling day. But Clinton’s campaign was disrupted the maximum by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks which continues to publish the emails of her campaign chair John Podesta, a major Washington insider.
The whistleblowing website has published close to 56,000 emails from Podesta’s private account since October 7, sometimes more than once a day, revealing the internal communications of Clinton’s campaign staff.
And one of them is linked to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. John Podesta also owns Washington-based lobbyist firm Podesta Group run by his brother Tony. The firm signed a lucrative deal with the Maldives last September to counsel Abdulla Yameen-led government amid threat of sanctions and was paid USD 50,000 by a company implicated in country’s biggest corruption scandal.
And whether or not Trump will act against Clinton, who, he had said during a debate would “be in jail” if he became the president, Podesta can actually be investigated over its links with a money-laundering regime in Maldives.
Podesta, the “superlobbyist” has been accused for “whitewashing” Yameen and his cronies’ crimes, as alleged by opposition and received its fee from state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).
Podesta was hired by Abdulla Yameen-led government to provide strategic counsel to the government.
The contract with the government published by Podesta Group on the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) office’s website read, “(Podesta will) provide strategic counsel on strengthening ties (of Maldives) to the US government.”
The deal was cracked at whopping USD 300,000 for a period of six months between September 8, 2015 and March 7, 2016.
Government initially denied reports of hiring Podesta but e-mails containing details of cost negotiations with the firm — sent by Jeffrey Salim Waheed, the deputy permanent representative in New York — were leaked. The then Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon were also marked in the mails.
Adeeb, who brokered may such PR deals for his boss, was in direct communication with Foreign Ministry officials over hiring Podesta. Adeeb was also informed that Podesta wanted its fee to be paid in monthly instalments of USD 50,000.
Even though the deal was called off in October after Adeeb’s arrest on the charges of plotting to assassinate Yameen in boat blast on September 30, Podesta received one-month fee for its services from state tourism promotion company MMPRC.
Documents filed by Podesta at the US Department of Justice disclosed that the firm was paid USD 50,000 from MMPRC.
Later, MMPRC’s former head Abdulla Ziyath was found guilty in money embezzlement USD 80 million from state coffers along with Adeeb.
Podesta, however, was not the only firm to be paid a lucrative fee for polishing the Maldives’ deteriorating image by MMPRC. Cherie Blair’s Omnia Strategy was also paid more than £200,000 for consultancy on “democratic consolidation” to Yameen by the state tourism promotion company.
The main-opposition Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) alleged that the government was spending obscene amounts of public money for image-building.
“Government officials are clearly rattled at the prospect of facing targeted sanctions. But rather than doing the right thing and freeing the political prisoners, they are spending obscene amounts of public money on foreign lobbyists, who will try to whitewash their crimes,” Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, the party’s international spokesman was quoted as saying by Maldives Independent.
In September this year, an investigative documentary by Al-Jazeera exposed embezzlement of money from state coffers to private accounts by illegally leasing islands. The documentary claimed that President Yameen and his associates