On October 15th the FISC, or secret intelligence court, granted a FISA warrant against two Russian banks – Silicon Valley Bank and Alfa Bank. (That is, as I have reported subsequently, two warrants, one per bank, granted on the same day.)
Milo Yiannopoulos has an account at one of these banks. He told me this himself. I reproduce the string of our email correspondence below.
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Milo Yiannopoulos, the provocateur journalist, and I, were once friendly. And then, due to the alt-right and his support for it, we were not. We were, however, still civil.
Before the recent revelations of Yiannopoulos position on child abuse, he had both a book deal, of some consequence, and was doing a tour of colleges. At Heat Street, we often covered the early stages of that tour, where liberal students would try to deny the conservative provocateur a platform by shouting him down. I was and am in favor of free speech.
However, in the period just before and after the election, those normal “student” protests suddenly became violent. And yet nobody could find the so-called “students” who were causing violent trouble. I started to suspect that Russian ‘active measures’ were involved in funding these riots. The independent journalist Caroline @RVAwonk has a number of good threads on twitter about how Russian-Trump linked provocateurs like Baked Alaska will travel to places like Berkeley, looking to cause trouble.
However, I did not pursue this line of thought as I had other, bigger, fish to fry.
There was one thing on Twitter that caught my notice, however. A woman was complaining to me that she had done work for Milo and not been paid. He had a bad record in the UK of not paying women journalists and then threatening them. I asked him on her behalf whether her claims were true. This was on background, so I am not reporting it. Rather I am excerpting here the separate parts of our email conversation where I asked him why he had an account with Silicon Valley Bank – a name familiar to me from my own FISA exclusive of Nov 7th.
why svb bank that is the Russian bank at the heart of the FBI counter espionage probe
On that matter, he replied:
I used to bank with SVB. No idea about any Russian connections. I’m with Chase now.
We then exchanged further emails on the topic that was on background. But I returned to the issue of the bank account, which stuck out for me:
I still want to know in all honesty how you came to be with SVB. They are not a high street bank. you can’t just open an account. <Redacted> for Russian intelligence and the FSB. what has <redacted> to do with them and how did you get connected?
I had a Private Bank account with Silicon Valley Bank, whose executives I met when I was a technology reporter. SVB Private Bank is a boutique bank for high net worth individuals. I can’t comment on your allegation <redacted> “Russian intelligence,” save to say it sounds rather far-fetched.
He then gave me an “on the record” quote that was a smear against the complainant. But as far as I am concerned, everything not relating to the matter he emailed me on was and is on the record.
I did not write a story of any kind about his feud with the complainant. He sent me an on-record smear against her, including a swipe at her disability, but the rest was on background.
Milo had previously boasted to me of his friendship with Peter Thiel (which may, I must point out, be complete rubbish – he is an unreliable witness who lies) and with Robert Mercer.
Sources did not say why SVB Bank was under a FISA warrant. They were more forthcoming about Alfa Bank. They did however describe SVB as ‘a Russian Bank’. Most posts on the matter are from Russian sites that track readers, so I link to this Daily Kos description of the agreement between SVB and Sberbank in 2012:
June 21, 2012, St. Petersburg – During the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Sberbank of Russia and SVB Financial Group (SVB), parent company of Silicon Valley Bank, of the United States have signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a formal relationship between Sberbank and SVB to promote venture financing in Russia and help support an emerging and vibrant entrepreneurial economy.
There will be more on SVB’s role with Jared Kushner shortly.
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Why are these articles often unsigned? Who is the author, Louise Mensch?