Congressman Develops Ties With Russia
Interesting story over the weekend about Representative Charles H. Taylor (R-NC), an eighth-term Member of Congress, representing the 11th district of North Carolina. Rep. Taylor is an apparent avid Russophile and business man, with various businesses and banks in the US and Russia. According to the article, he is also known for his hiring of Russian business managers.
Starting in the mid-1990s, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, Taylor financed a series of construction projects in and around Ivanovo. The industrial city of 430,000 is about 150 miles northeast of Moscow.Unfortunately, not discussed in this article is that Rep. Taylor is also a suspected crook - errrr - "Ethically Challenged Individual". Apparently, there is evidence that he has been involved with fraud and money laundering. Among other things ...
In the late 1990s, Taylor was a major player in the Russian Leadership Program, a congressionally funded legislative exchange with Russia's Duma. In 2003, he purchased the Bank of Ivanovo.
Taylor has an obvious passion for Russia and its history. When a Russian business magazine asked him this year why he hired Russian managers for his bank, he responded, '(If) you read Pushkin and learn the history of Russia, you understand how to do business in Russia better than when listening to foreign managers.'
Last year, Taylor secured $100,000 in federal money for the International Trade and Small Business Institute. It brings foreign students to the U.S. to study at seven colleges and universities in western North Carolina. This year, the federal budget for the 2007 budget year contained a $1 million earmark for the program. Taylor has said the program is also funded by the colleges involved and by private donations.
Rep. Taylor is also known for repeated calls for changes in USA visa laws and trade laws, as regards the Russian Federation. Fortunately, Rep. Taylor's interest in Russian culture appears genuine. Unfortunately, he appears to have the ethics of many of the Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich cronies.
One of Rep. Taylor's outside business interests is the Blue Ridge Savings and Loan, an Asheville, North Carolina bank he founded, chairs and holds a majority interest.
In 2001, Hayes C. Martin, the former president of Blue Ridge, pled guilty to bank fraud for making a series of loans to Rep. Taylor's long-time friend and supporter, Charles Cagle. According to news reports based on court testimony and an FBI interview with Mr. Martin, Rep. Taylor had extensive knowledge about, and was involved in the making of, the loans to Mr. Cagle. Mr. Martin testified that when the FBI began to investigate the Cagle loans, Rep. Taylor ordered the removal of an employee who was suspected of cooperating with federal investigators. Mr. Martin further testified that he spent a fair amount of his time "helping Charles Taylor to skirt issues with the Office of Thrift Supervision."Beginning in the mid-1990s, Financial Guaranty Corp., the holding company for Blue Ridge Savings and Loan, ... chaired and owned by Rep. Tayor, made a series of loans to Russian companies with interest rates as high as 60%. While active in pushing Congress to support a western-style home mortgage program in Russia, Rep. Taylor bought an 80% stake in a Russian bank in Ivanovo, making it the first American-owned bank in Russia. Rep. Taylor also founded a Russian investment company called Columbus, which appears to work in concert with the Commercial Bank of Ivanovo. Columbus was formed to overcome some of the restrictions of Russian banking law and expand the kind of investments Rep. Taylor could make in Russia.
House Rules prohibit Members from receiving any compensation, the receipt of which is due to their official position. By taking taxpayer-funded trips to Russia to explore and advance his personal business interests, Rep. Taylor may have violated this rule, as well as rules prohibiting conflicts of interest.