Media Trackers: Left Attempts to Tie Putin to Montana Coal Mine

Aaron Flint posted on June 11, 2014 14:37 :: 1866 Views

The left is working to do anything they can to try and shut down coal jobs in Montana.  Their latest tactic- trying to tie Russian President Vladimir Putin to a coal mine near Roundup.   

Here’s an excerpt from an opinion piece on the liberal website Huffington Post: Putin and the Federal Coal Lease in Montana

Will Russian President Vladimir Putin get richer thanks to a sweetheart government coal deal in Montana? Last month the Treasury Department informed Congress that Mr. Putin personally held an interest in an international oil and gas investment fund called the Gunvor Group, run out of Geneva, Switzerland. Team Putin adamantly denied his involvement, but the Treasury Department insisted it was right.

The Gunvor Group is a large and profitable enterprise, producing $91 billion in revenues in 2013, but unlike U.S. companies, it publicly reports very little detail about the source of its revenues and profits or how they are divided. In 2011 the Gunvor Group bought into the partnership that is working the Signal Peak coal mine in Montana.

The “sweetheart deal” allegations aside, Montana Media Trackers looks into the claims, which link back to ties with Russian Gennady Timchenko, and offers this:

Since 2011, the Switzerland-based Gunvor Group has owned a 1/3rd interest — along with FirstEnergy and Boich — in Signal Peak Energy and its Bull Mountain Mine near Roundup. Signal Peak is in the process of expanding the mine and has obtained coal leases for tens of millions of tons from both the State of Montana and the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

For his part, Mr. Timchenko is actually no longer a stockholder in nor does he have any official role at Gunvor, having sold his stake in the company in March as he faced U.S. sanctions. Timchenko sold his stake to his former partner, a Swedish national named Torbjorn Tornquist, who now owns 87 percent of the company according to Gunvor’s website.

Both Timchenko and the Gunvor Group have steadfastly denied that the Russian president has any connection to the company. In fact, Timchenko even filed suit against the Economist in 2008 and forced magazine to print a retraction of its previous article stating: “We accept Gunvor’s assurances that neither Vladimir Putin nor any other senior Russian political figures have any ownership in Gunvor.”

Reuters has more on Timchenko:

The United States added Timchenko and several other Russian businessmen to its sanctions list on Thursday to put pressure on Russia over the annexation of Crimea. Gunvor, the world’s No. 4 oil trader, said Timchenko had sold his share on Wednesday as part of a contingency plan to keep the business he co-founded in 1997 running smoothly.

Timchenko, 61, was listed by Forbes as the 61st richest person in the world this month, with an estimated fortune of $15.3 billion.

The U.S. Treasury department said on Thursday the sanctions targeted Timchenko and not Gunvor, but the news still spooked counterparties across the world which trade more than 2 million barrels of crude oil and refined oil products with Gunvor every day, plus other commodities including natural gas and coal.

As for the Signal Peak Coal mine…KTVQ-TV reports:  Montana’s Signal Peak Coal mine among most productive in the world

Not many people believed Montana Governor Judy Martz back in 2001, when she traveled to Roundup to announce a new era in local coal mining.
Fast forward now to 2014, and there’s no question a new era in Roundup coal mining has arrived.  The new Signal Peak Mine, located 17 miles south of Roundup in Montana’s Bull Mountains, is state-of-the art.  Half a billion dollars has been invested here since 2009.

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