EXCLUSIVE / Christopher Steele, a former Russia operations officer for Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency who is purported to be the author of a dossier of allegations against US President-elect Donald Trump, has also investigated former Bulgarian Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, euractiv.com can reveal.
President-elect Donald Trump escalated a fight with US spy agencies yesterday (11 January) after two US officials said allegations about Trump were presented last week to him and to outgoing President Barack Obama.
The dossier contains lurid and hard-to-prove allegations.
“I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it’s a disgrace, and I say that … that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do,” Trump told a news conference in New York.
According to The New York Times, seven months ago, Glenn Simpson, of Fusion GPS, commissioned Orbis to investigate Trump as part of an effort financed by an unnamed rich Republican donour who strongly opposed the billionaire candidate.
Steele, who spied in Moscow under diplomatic cover in the early 1990s, and was later reported to be “MI6’s top expert on Russia”, was not in a position to travel to Moscow to study Trump’s connections there, according to the NYT. Instead, he hired native Russian speakers to call informants inside Russia and made surreptitious contact with his own connections in the country as well.
The New York Times provides further details, which raise doubts about the quality of the report, saying its authenticity is difficult to verify.
Interestingly, Steele has also investigated former Commission Vice President Kristalina Georgieva, euractiv.com sources revealed.
In April and May last year, Steele got in touch with Bulgarian nationals in an effort to investigate Georgieva’s dark past, especially her alleged links to organised crime, according to email exchanges seen by EURACTIV. The client was reported to be the US government.
At that time, Georgieva was a candidate for UN Secretary-General.
In particular, Steele investigated Georgieva’s links with Multigroup, a post-Communist business empire led by Iliya Pavlov, who was assassinated in Sofia in 2003, according to the correspondence. The killers have not been found.
No evidence has proven Georgieva’s affiliation with Multigroup. Last October, Yves Kugelmann, a Swiss-based journalist, published an article on the Foreign Policy Research Institute website claiming, among other things, that Georgieva had connections with Multigroup. The article has since been withdrawn.
Kugelmann wrote that Georgieva’s daughter, Dessislava Kinova, has been a longtime employee of companies run by Multigroup. He says US diplomats have described Multigroup as “once the doyen of Bulgarian organised crime”, which may be an overstatement.
It is true, however, that the US government has an aversion to Multigroup, which is confirmed by official correspondence from the State Department made public by Wikileaks.
Last October, Georgieva resigned from the European Commission to take a job with the World Bank.
The Telegraph reports that Steele “went underground” since his name became public, and left his cat with a neighbour, fearing for his own life.