New Cobb EMC CEO & Mueller’s Russia Investigation

In a separate post, IndieDems analyzes Cobb EMC’s appointment in March of Peter Heintzelman as its new CEO (Question about Cobb EMC’s New CEO: Why Him?). We note that Heintzelman’s last job was as Chief Financial Officer for Alevo USA Inc. when it filed for bankruptcy in August 2017. He went on to become the interim group CEO for the firm as he shepherded it through the bankruptcy. Heintzelman’s Alevo connection opened up an interesting pathway between Cobb EMC and the Mueller Russia investigation.

The Charlotte (NC) Business Journal reported that the Alevo bankruptcy focused renewed attention on Alevo’s investors. The Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliva( Today’s Business) reported that investors include Russian Oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev and a Norwegian named Gjermund Cappelen, who had been charged in one of that country’s largest drug smuggling cases.

The Charlotte Observer reported Heintzelman’s appointment as CEO with this headline: Alevo Group names new interim CEO as ally of Russian investor departs. Excerpts:

  • Alevo Group, the Swiss battery maker whose U.S. arms filed for bankruptcy protection in August, said Thursday that it had named Peter Heintzelman interim group CEO, replacing the recently departed Vlad Baumgertner… who had led Rybolovlev’s former company, Uralkali, from 2003 to 2013…
  • Alevo said in a news release that Heintzelman’s appointment…”will enable the organization to benefit from his leadership during its post-Chapter 11 filing in the US and its continued efforts in Switzerland and Germany.”

Rybolovlev reportedly has received scrutiny in the investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia. In 2008 Rybolovlev bought Trump’s seaside Florida mansion – Maison de L’Amite – for $95m. Trump made a $50m profit, having bought the property just four years earlier. “The sale at the peak of the global financial crisis raised eyebrows,” according to The Guardian.

According to The Committee to Investigate Russia: To this day, Rybolovlev and Trump claim they never have met. However, a series of coincidences have drawn that declaration into question. Twice before the November 2016 election, Rybolovlev’s private plane landed in places Trump was campaigning, Las Vegas on October 30th and Charlotte, with another stop in Concord, NC—the home of Alevo’s U. S. operations—on November 3rd.

Rybolovlev was the biggest shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus until a financial crisis in 2013 left him with a $600 million loss and paved the way for oligarchs more closely aligned with the Kremlin to step in, according to the Committee’s report.

Rybolovlev is connected to Wilbur Ross, President Trump’s Secretary of Commerce, who helped bail out the Bank of Cyprus in 2014 and served as Member and Vice-Chairman of its Board of Directors until submitting his resignation on March 1, 2017. The bank appointed James B. Lockhart III, Vice Chairman of WL Ross & Co. LLC (Wilbur Ross’ company), in his stead, leaving open the possibility that Ross has not separated entirely from the Bank of Cyprus’ activities.

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