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Russian-Turned-American Oil Vet Bets Big on Trump Victory


Simon Kukes, a former head of Russian state-owned oil and gas company Yukos, has spent over US$150,000 on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, adding to a list of Russia-related facts and reports surrounding the Republican candidate.

Kukes, according to documents from the Federal Election Commission, first gave US$2,700 directly to the Trump campaign in spring, and then added another US$149,000 to the Trump Victory fundraising committee.

Open Secrets notes how the name of Donald Trump has been connected with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine via his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and how Trump himself has on more than one occasion spoken positively about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kukes, who immigrated to the States in his twenties, then regularly returned to Russia. Between 1998 and 2003 he was chief executive of Tyumen Oil and then for a year was at the helm of Yukos – the company that was bankrupted by the state on grounds of tax evasion and its long-time CEO Dmitry Khodorkovsky was sent to jail with a ten-year sentence.

Later, in 2014, the Russian state was sentenced by the Netherlands-based permanent Court for Arbitration to pay a compensation of US$50 billion to Yukos’s majority shareholders for its deliberate use of tax claims to drown the company. Khodorkovsky was notorious for his opposition to Putin’s party and funding of opposition parties.

Kukes, who took over the helm of Yukos after Khodorkovsky was sentenced, is now officially retired. However, he continues to be a partner at oil and gas company Hess Corporation and is chief executive of NAFTA Consulting, an advisory firm that specializes in U.S. and Russian energy businesses that want to work together.

A UPI poll from yesterday revealed that Trump is fast catching up with Clinton: the difference between the two candidates is less than 1 percentage point in favor of Clinton, but if Trump wins enough swing states he would be the next president.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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