The FBI’s Russia investigation has new targets in its sights, a Moscow banker and his friends at the NRA, according to a report.
Investigators are looking into whether Alexander Torshin, a deputy at Russia’s central bank, illegally sent money to the National Rifle Association to support the election of President Trump, McClatchy reported on Thursday.
Federal Election Commission regulations and federal law prohibit foreign nationals from giving to election efforts, including “directly or indirectly participating in the decision-making process” or bodies such as labor unions or corporations.
The U.S. intelligence community has said that the Kremlin officials all the way up to Vladimir Putin, seen as close to Torshin, conducted a campaign to tilt the election towards the Republican.
Much of that alleged effort was centered around the hacking of Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign aide emails, though investigators have also been looking at potential financial ties.
The NRA endorsed Trump’s outsider candidacy as he was wrapping up the Republican nomination in spring 2016, and spent $30 million to support his campaign as part of a more than $50 million total election effort.
Torshin is a longtime NRA member and has attended multiple conventions put on by the group, including its 2016 meeting where he met with Donald Trump Jr. and reportedly tried to set up a meeting with Trump himself.
The trip, which had meetings with a host of Russian government and business figures, coincided with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s own trip to Moscow, paid for by state broadcaster RT.
A report from Spanish investigators first reported by Bloomberg, however, says that Torshin’s interests spread from guns into money laundering.
One of his partners in a planned Mallorca hotel deal received multiple years in prison after pleading guilty to a fraud scheme.
It is not clear how much money changed hands between Torshin and the NRA, which along with the Russian Central Bank and the FBI did not comment on the report.
The public-facing side of Mueller’s probe in recent weeks has moved from focusing on contacts between Trump officials and Russians to more money-related matters.
Deutsche Bank, the German lender that Trump has done extensive business with, reportedly received a subpoena from the special counsel’s office, though the President’s lawyers have denied that it is about him personally.
A report from Buzzfeed on Wednesday also said that investigators were looking into suspicious money transfers from the Russian government into the United States, though the Russian Embassy in Washington said that all of its financial actions were above-board.