Columbus Nova

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Columbus Nova
Private
IndustryInvestment
Founded2000; 19 years ago (2000)
FounderAndrew Intrater
Headquarters,
U.S.
Key people
Andrew Intrater (CEO)
Websitecolumbusnova.com

Columbus Nova is an investment company founded in 2000 by Andrew Intrater, who serves as the company's chief executive officer and is cousin to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Former senior managing partner Jason Epstein departed the company in 2017.[1]

History[edit]

On September 17, 2013, online music service Rhapsody International announced that it would accept a "significant" investment of an undisclosed amount from Columbus Nova Technology Partners. At the same time, it was announced that Rhapsody president Jon Irwin would step down and the company would lay off some of its workers.[2]

Former senior managing partner Jason Epstein also owns Daybreak Game Company, Harmonix, the makers of Guitar Hero, whom he bought from Viacom in December 2010.[3][4]

In 2015, Columbus Nova made large investments in Chairman Benny Gantz's Fifth Dimension, a real time predictive analysis firm used by security agencies.[5] Fifth Dimension was founded in 2014 by CEO Guy Caspi and deputy Chairman of the Board Doron Cohen.[5] Late in 2018, Fifth Dimension ceased its operations.[6]

In 2017, Mother Jones reported that Andrew Intrater donated $250,000 to Trump's inauguration fund and $35,000 to a joint fundraising committee for Trump’s re-election and the Republican National Committee.[7]

Connection to Viktor Vekselberg and payments to Michael Cohen[edit]

According to the Washington Post, "Columbus Nova has been described in federal regulatory filings as an affiliate of the Renova Group, founded by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg". The sanctioned Russian company Renova Group, itself controlled by Vekselberg, also subject to U.S. sanctions, has previously listed Columbus Nova as an affiliate investment manager under the Renova Group's umbrella.[8] Per regulations administered by the United States Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), companies that are at least 50% owned by sanctioned individuals or companies are themselves subject to U.S. sanctions.[9] Columbus Nova stated that, while Renova Group had been their largest client, they had never been part of Renove Group, and had been "100 percent owned by U.S. citizen" since its inception.[10][11]

On May 8, 2018, the New York Times reported that during 2017 Columbus Nova made payments of at least $500,000 to a bank account maintained by Michael Cohen, then acting as President Donald Trump's personal attorney.[12] However, the sanctions against Renova Group were not put in place until April 6, 2018,[13] so even if Columbus Nova were subject to sanctions due to its ownership structure, payments from Vekselberg to Donald Trump (via Cohen) would not have been expressly prohibited by OFAC at the time the payments were made.[14] Subsequent reporting by the New York Times noted that the Muller report did not name Intrater or Vekselberg and quoted Intrater as saying, “The fact that I’m not even mentioned in the Mueller report confirms what I knew all along — that I’ve done nothing wrong.”[15]

As reported in the New York Times, on July 1, 2019, Intrater and his Columbus Nova entity sued the United States Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) claiming that OFAC's "50% rule" - whereby any property owned 50% or more by a sanctioned person is itself subject to sanctions also known as blocking - is unconstitutional as applied to Americans who have an interest in such property.[16] The New York Times article also noted that "If successful, the lawsuit could break new legal ground. Carlton Greene, a former senior Treasury official who worked in the office overseeing investigations into sanctions violations and is now a partner at Crowell & Moring, said past lawsuits had raised Fourth Amendment issues but none made it a central argument. ""I think a Fourth Amendment argument for property blocked in the U.S., for a party with constitutional rights, is an argument that the government would have to take seriously,"" Mr. Greene said.[17]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Olivetti, Justin (April 24, 2018). "Daybreak says it has 'no affiliation' with Columbus Nova, the company it said bought it in 2015". Massively Overpowered. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  2. ^ Crook, Jordan (September 17, 2013). "Faced With Fierce Competition, Rhapsody Takes "Significant" Investment From Columbus Nova". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  3. ^ "Harmonix Rebounds With Dance Central, Bets on Music Downloads". Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg News. November 2, 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  4. ^ Marie, Meagan (December 23, 2010). "Viacom Sells Harmonix To Columbus Nova". gameinformer.com. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Goldenberg, Roy (September 8, 2015). "Former IDF Chief to Chair Big Data Company Fifth Dimension: Benny Gantz says 'deep learning' artificial intelligence technology will help Israeli firm to be global success". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  6. ^ Hoffman, Gil (December 16, 2018). "Did Stormy Daniels cause Benny Gantz's Cyber Company to close shop?". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  7. ^ Corn, David; Friedman, Dan (August 17, 2017). "A Putin-friendly oligarch's top US executive gave a lot of money to Donald Trump". Mother Jones. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  8. ^ "Renova group structure". October 13, 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  9. ^ "OFAC FAQs: General Questions". www.treasury.gov. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  10. ^ "Columbus Nova: Meet The Russia-Linked Firm That Hired Trump's Lawyer". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  11. ^ Protess, Ben; Rashbaum, William K.; McIntire, Mike (May 22, 2018). "In Michael Cohen’s Rolodex, an Investor Tied to Russia Saw Pay Dirt". Retrieved January 23, 2019 – via NYTimes.com.
  12. ^ "Firm Tied to Russian Oligarch Made Payments to Michael Cohen". The New York Times. May 8, 2018. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  13. ^ "Treasury Designates Russian Oligarchs, Officials, and Entities in Response to Worldwide Malign Activity | U.S. Department of the Treasury". home.treasury.gov. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  14. ^ "OFAC FAQs: Sanctions Lists and Files". www.treasury.gov. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  15. ^ "Russia Sanctions Froze His Fortune. Can the 4th Amendment Unlock It?". July 1, 2019.
  16. ^ "Russia Sanctions Froze His Fortune. Can the 4th Amendment Unlock It?". July 1, 2019.
  17. ^ "Russia Sanctions Froze His Fortune. Can the 4th Amendment Unlock It?". July 1, 2019.

External links[edit]