ABLV owner hires former Trump campaign official

ABLV bank shareholder Ernests Bernis has hired U.S. lobbyist Bryan Lanza, who worked as deputy director of communications for the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, reports LSM's Russian-language service.

Lanza is a managing director at lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs which describes itself as a "high-stakes public strategy firm" and boasts "As a global firm, we know how to influence elected officials at all levels of government."

Mercury's client list also includes Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who lobbied to get U.S. sanctions lifted from his companies. The effort to get sanctions lifted on Deripaska's firms caused controversy in the United Kingdom too, when it emerged that a British Lord had received huge payments for his lobbying efforts alongside Mercury, as reported by Bloomberg.

Lanza will represent the interests of ASG Resolution Capital, which is owned by Bernis, according to a report on portal OpenSecrets.org. Bernis, one of ABLV's founders, owns 43% of the bank, which is currently undergoing a liquidation process. Official lobbying documents filed in Washington D.C. identify the subject of the lobbying as "liquidation of ABLV Bank". 

This is not the first time Bernis-related companies have used the services of American lobbyists, says Rus.lsm. For example, ABLV Advisory Services turned to Blue Star Strategies LLC, another lobbying company, the day after the publication of a damning report by the US Treasury on ABLV's activities, which sent the bank into freefall. The lobbyists retained on that occasion were Karen Tramontano and Sally Painter, former Clinton administration officials. Painter now sits on the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Council.

The crisis around ABLV began on February 13, 2018, with the bank opting for what was termed "voluntary liquidation" soon after - a process which continues to this day and remains a source of tension between U.S. and Latvian regulators.

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