In his financial disclosure statement, which represents a substantial sum of money, the US ambassador openly admitted to receiving funds from an individual associated with Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov. Nevertheless, what remains unclear is the exact type of legal services offered by David Pressman to associates of the pro-Putin financier, which allowed them to effectively avoid sanctions. One thing that is definite, however, is that this partnership has considerably increased the diplomat’s income, even though he has consistently criticized Hungary.
Mysterious legal services
The US diplomat who recently criticized Hungary for maintaining its relations with Russia might have connections to Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia’s top ten wealthiest individuals. International news reports suggest that Mr. Prokhorov is effectively bypassing the negative consequences of economic sanctions.
Prior to his assignment in Hungary, David Pressman spent two years at the law firm Jenner & Block, which, according to its official website, specializes in international sanctions and export regulations. Mr. Pressman’s financial disclosure was made public after his appointment as an ambassador. In this disclosure, he revealed that, during his tenure at Jenner & Block, he provided legal services to a woman named Ellen Pinchuk, who happens to be responsible for managing Mikhail Prokhorov’s business affairs in the United States.
In 2010, the Russian billionaire purchased the Brooklyn Nets, an NBA team, and it was Ellen Pinchuk, who spoke Russian fluently, that played a crucial part in coordinating Mr. Prokhorov’s media appearances and efforts to shape his image for this transaction. Her endeavors proved to be highly effective, leading to the oligarch receiving favorable media coverage, such as a prominent feature on the well-known American show ’60 Minutes’ and a positive profile in The New York Times.
The Russian dollar carries no scent, either
Based on reports in the global media, Mr. Prokhorov has adeptly managed to avoid the international sanctions targeting Russian billionaires, taking proactive steps to anticipate and counter the expansion of punitive measures that were initially introduced in 2014. It’s clear that the billionaire is resolute in his efforts to evade these sanctions, as he has recently acquired Israeli citizenship, likely in an attempt to escape these punitive actions. Consequently, it’s not unexpected that there are appeals from Ukrainian parties for Mr. Prokhorov to be subjected to sanctions by the international community.
The U.S. ambassador’s financial disclosure does not provide details about the timeframe or costs associated with the legal services he offered to Ellen Pinchuk. Nonetheless, it is evident that these discussions took place from 2020 to 2022, shortly before the war began. Additionally, Mr. Pressman’s participation in the Russian contract, despite his ongoing criticism of Hungary, resulted in substantial financial benefits for the U.S. diplomat, leading to an accumulation of nearly two million dollars in less than two years while he worked at Jenner & Block.
Double standards, David Pressman style
Mr. Pressman, who readily received financial support from a trusted associate of Mikhail Prokhorov, has been an outspoken opponent of our nation, especially when it comes to economic sanctions that not only affect Russia but also have negative repercussions for Europe. A notable example of this inconsistency occurred in April of this year when the US ambassador imposed sanctions on the Budapest-based International Investment Bank and three of its high-ranking executives.
At the time, the diplomat said:
We have concerns about the continued eagerness of Hungarian leaders to expand and deepen ties with the Russian Federation despite Russia’s ongoing brutal aggression against Ukraine and threat to transatlantic security. Close economic engagement with Russia feeds the Russian war machine, which threatens transatlantic security.
Mr. Pressman has criticized the Hungarian government for not just pursuing improved relations with Russia but also for actively advocating for peace. He made these remarks on the anniversary of the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“There is not a peace camp and a war camp. There is only Russia and those who will not acknowledge its accountability for continuing this war.”
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