Our high-level sources confirmed yesterday evening that the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Defense is looking at Black Hall Aerospace, Inc. a/k/a AAL USA, Inc., the Russian-linked aerospace company for which Balch & Bingham had successfully changed Russian sanctions.
We hope the OIG takes a deeper look at Balch & Bingham’s influence peddling in Washington, DC on behalf of Black Hall Aerospace.
In May of 2017, Balch & Bingham appears to have deceived the public and Politico.com about their relationship with the Russian-linked company owned by Oleg Sirbu, a Soviet-immigrant who lives in Dubai.
Politico.com reported then that in a statement Balch & Bingham said they “previously represented an American subcontractor to a large U.S. aerospace company, which had a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to maintain Russian-made helicopters purchased by the Obama Administration.” Balch also justified their website scrub to Politico.com, “We recently updated content on our website to avoid any misunderstanding as to the nature of our representation.”
As we explained in a letter to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III at the time, Balch went from representing Black Hall Aerospace as a subcontracted lobbyist to representing them directly.
“What is the difference? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Lobbying is lobbying either done directly or as a subcontractor. We are not surprised by this deception,” we wrote.
Then this year we learned that Balch & Bingham allegedly fired Black Hall Aerospace at the time.
If true, why would Balch have abruptly ended their lucrative relationship?
The revenue growth at the Russian-linked aerospace company was enormous at the time the lobbying took place. The skyrocketing revenue raises red flags, and serious concerns and questions.
According to an online publication, AAL USA, Inc. and/or Black Hall Aerospace, Inc., went from generating $6.5 million in 2014 with 15 employees, to over an estimated $100 million in 2016 with 450 employees. Likewise, according to a court filing, AAL USA Inc. had less than $1 million in revenue with fewer than 20 employees in 2014 but grew to over 400 employees and $50 million in revenue by 2016.
In our phone conversation last year with Thomas M. Countryman, the former U.S. Department of State official who drafted the sanctions exemptions in November of 2015, the decision to make those changes to Russian sanctions came from either the U.S. Department of Defense, Homeland Security, or State.
Did officials at the U.S. Department of Defense meet with lobbyists from Balch & Bingham? Did then-U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions staff (Balch allies) meet with DOD staff and push the changes after meeting with Balch & Bingham lobbyists? How did Balch & Bingham assist their client with the procurement and contracting process? Did Balch & Bingham benefit financially in any way from the contracting and enormous growth at Black Hall Aerospace from DOD expenditures in Afghanistan and elsewhere?
We applaud the OIG for their investigative efforts.