The other "Ukrainian business" that embarrasses the Trump administration

Rick Perry, former Secretary of State for Energy, is suspected of having used his function to obtain a favorable gas contract for his relatives.

Time to Reading 4 min.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Rick Perry, then Secretary of State for Energy, in May 2019 in Kiev. Mykola Lazarenko / AP

Some will talk about "economic diplomacy", others about a new case of abuse of power by the Trump administration. But everyone will agree that at a time when the US president faces impeachment proceedings, linked to the telephone conversation he held on July 25 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, this other "Ukrainian affair" is causing trouble.

It is about Rick Perry, then Donald Trump's state secretary for energy and former governor of Texas. A "fantastic guy", according to the American president, that the latter however brutally sacked mid-October, when started the offensive of the democratic camp against the billionaire president.

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The White House tenant is suspected of pressuring his counterpart, condemning the granting of crucial military aid to Ukraine – whose army faces Russian-backed separatists – at the start of a investigation into the activities in the country of the son of his possible Democratic rival in the 2020 election, Joe Biden. In this context, the contract of exploitation of gas and oil won in July by relatives of Rick Perry, Michael Bleyzer and Alex Cranberg, despite a financially less attractive offer than the competition, can only raise questions.

"It may not be a crime, but it's disgusting"

Before winning the contract, Mr Perry sent President Zelensky's team a list of personalities to advise the recently elected head of state on the energy sector. Among them was Michael Bleyzer. The businessman, who has been in Ukraine for twenty years, had never invested in the energy sector until now. Alex Cranberg is described as a "mega-donor" of the Republican Party. In particular, he provided Mr. Perry with his luxurious private jet for some of his travels. "It may not be a crime, but it's disgusting," says Jessica Tillipman, an anti-corruption professor at George Washington University, quoted by the Associated Press, as revealing the case on Nov. 11.

"Mystery"

The Ukrainian tender concerned oil and gas drilling rights in an area of ​​11,469 km2. The society of MM. Bleyzer and Cranberg focused on a 3,471 km parcel2 offering exploitation rights for fifty years. Their company, Ukrainian Energy, a subsidiary of the American company Aspect Energy, was opposed to UkrGasVydobuvannya (UGV), a subsidiary of state-owned company Naftogaz. The Americans proposed to invest a little more than the minimum required, or 1.1 billion hrivnas (41 million euros at the current rate) against 1.5 billion for UGV. In the evaluation report of the Committee of Experts taking into account financial and extra-financial criteria, The world has obtained a copy, both offers score almost similar, with a slight advantage to UGV (265 points against 259.2).

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