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Special Reports Last Updated: Jun 12th, 2008 - 00:33:54

John McCain's 70th birthday bash held on boat of Russian tycoon
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jun 12, 2008, 00:17

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(WMR) -- John McCain's campaign is trying to make political hay out of the conviction of Chicago tycoon Tony Rezko, a one-time fundraiser for presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. However, the McCain campaign wants to bury the story of McCain's 70th birthday bash held on board the yacht of a Russian aluminum tycoon in the Adriatic Sea. The party was held on August 29, 2006, McCain's birthday and followed a congressional junket by McCain and five other GOP senators to the Republic of Georgia.

The host for McCain's yacht party off the coast of the Republic of Montenegro was, according to WMR sources with close links to the Republican Party, Oleg Deripaska, one of Russia's most powerful tycoons who made his billions in cornering Russia's aluminum market in the 1990s.

The 40-year old Deripaska is also politically-connected, having married the daughter of Russia's late President Boris Yeltsin. Unlike most other Russian tycoons, who now live in exile abroad and are protected by Israeli passports, Deripaska maintains close relations to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and another Russian tycoon, Roman Abramovich, who was also invested in Russia's aluminum industry. In 2000, Deripaska merged his firm, Basic Element, with Abramovich's firm, RusAl. Both tycoons maintain expensive homes in London.

Deripaska has attracted the attention of U.S. law enforcement and he has been the subject of several civil law suits filed against him because of his business practices. However, no federal criminal charges have been brought against Deripaska. That is because Yeltsin's son-in-law counts, in addition to McCain, former GOP Senator and 1996 GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole among his most ardent supporters. In 2005, Deripaska paid Dole $500,000 in lobbying fees and was granted a visa to enter the United States. However, in 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. government refused to grant Deripaska another visa because the FBI discovered he made "inaccurate statements" to the bureau.

In the past, the Canadian firm Magna International, in which Deripaska is a $1.5 billion investor, attempted to buy Daimler Chrysler. The deal ultimately fell through.

McCain and Deripaska first met at a dinner party held concurrently with the Davos World Economic Forum in January 2006 in Switzerland. The party was hosted by Canadian gold mining billionaire Peter Munk, owner of Barrick Gold, which has counted former President George H. W. Bush, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former Senator Howard Baker, major Democratic Party lawyer/lobbyist Vernon Jordan, and former German Central Bank President Karl Otto Pohl among the members of its International Advisory Board. The party was arranged by McCain's 2000 campaign manager Rick Davis of the Washington lobbying group Davis Manafort. Attending the meeting in Davos were McCain, Davis, Deripaska, and Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and John Sununu (R-NH), as well as the host, Munk.

On August 29, 2006, McCain attended a dinner party in Montenegro that was followed by a champagne reception on a yacht that was hosted by Deripaska. Also reportedly in attendance was Davis, whose lobbying firm was representing the government of Montenegro; Munk; and Nathan Rothschild who, on March 20 of this year held a controversial fundraiser for McCain at Spencer House in London. The fundraiser raised questions about McCain receiving illegal "in kind" contributions from a foreign national.

The 70th birthday bash was reportedly a promise of huge cash donations to McCain's forthcoming presidential campaign, another indication of violations of law prohibiting donations from foreign sources. The quid pro quo for Derpaska was that McCain and his top lobbyists were pushing the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) and its Airbus subsidiary to receive the lucrative US Air Force contract to replace the Air Force's fleet of refueling tankers. The reported source for the aluminum in the Airbus tanker aircraft is Deripaska's Russian Aluminum Company (RusAl).

Some two weeks after the McCain birthday bash in Montenegro, the Russian state-owned Vneshtorgbank announced that it was acquiring more than 5 percent of EADS. At the same time, it was announced that RusAl was in negotiations to merge with a Russian aluminum competitor, SUAL, and Glencore of Switzerland, the firm owned by billionaire American fugitive Marc Rich.

The nexus of McCain with Russian oligarchs like Deripaska, as well as Munk, Rothschild, and Rich signifies that McCain is owned and operated by the very same entrenched global interests who have held sway in Washington during the seven-plus years of the George W. Bush administration.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright � 2008

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report.

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