America is getting sold. The Washington Post revealed in October 2023 that Russian billionaire Magomed Musaev, who has close ties to the Kremlin and a very questionable reputation, is the owner of Forbes Magazine, one of the oldest, most prestigious, and influential publications in the country. US Congressmen Eric Swalwell and Michael Waltz, and US Senator Tom Cotton alerted the authorities and requested the US Treasury Department to look into the details of the transaction. Based on materials from the hacked records of Musaev’s conversations that were shared anonymously with the press, Ukrainian journalists had previously produced a video report describing the sale of Forbes to Musaev. The ‘Musaev Archive’ contained a lot more materials than what was depicted in the video, so we took a look at some additional angles of this story. But let’s first take a closer look at Magomed Musaev himself.
Unraveling the mystery: Magomed “CASHarik” Musaev.
Most people associate “Maga” Musaev with his fortunate marriage. Ramazan Abdulatipov, his father-in-law, was a minister in Yevgeniy Primakov’s government, a deputy prime minister of Russia under Viktor Chernomyrdin, a minister in Sergei Stepashin’s government, and a former president of the Republic of Dagestan. Another well-known fact about Magomed Musaev is that he oversaw the renowned VDNH, a sizable exhibition hall in Moscow, as general director for over ten years. Back when capitalism was still “underdeveloped,” VDNH was well-known in Moscow for its retail stores that carried a wide range of computers and home appliances. Magomed Musaev assigned sellers specific shopping areas. He charged an amount of $120 per square meter as rent, but only $17-20 of it was recorded in the documents, as per the findings of Russian law enforcement officers. Magomed Musaev, who was called “CASHarik” for his addiciton to cash, allegedly made nearly $1 billion through this scheme before it was discovered. He was able to avoid imprisonment with the help of his influential father-in-law.
California sunshine and the innovation hub of Silicon Valley.
Following the conclusion of his “business” at VDNH, Magomed Musaev relocated to the US and successfully transferred his money there. The O1 visa, usually reserved for the most brilliant individuals that America requires, was obtained by the Russian oligarch. He claimed to be a Silicon Valley philanthropist and venture investor after spending tens of millions of dollars on an opulent mansion in San Francisco.
During a hacked conversation, he boasted, “The entire global political elite is coming together to celebrate my birthday!” Notably, Musaev purchased an estate in San Francisco from well-known local businessman Laird Cagan, who invited the Dagestani to join the ranks of Silicon Valley’s “main people” and referred him to others as a reliable business associate. Though the house had already been sold, Mr. Cagan was still permitted to use it, and they continued to hang out frequently, according to Musaev.
According to his formal bio, Laird Cagan is the co-founder and managing director of Cagan McAfee Capital Partners, LLC, which he established in 1990. Before this, he founded Cagan Capital, LLC. Over $500 million was invested in 15 high-tech companies that Mr. Cagan helped found in the 1990s. The businesses owned by Laird Cagan included those that dealt with energy, renewable energy, healthcare, information technology, payments, and “clean technologies.” Evolution Petroleum Corporation, which uses cutting-edge technology to develop oil and gas fields, was founded with Cagan as a co-founder.
Laird Cagan was contacted by Ukrainian journalists working on this story and asked to provide information about his relationship with Magomed Musaev, the sale of his house to him, the source of Musaev’s funds, the reasons behind his recommendation for the US O1 visa, and their joint business ventures. However, there has been no response from Cagan yet.
John Smith, a former senior official of the US Department of the Treasury, became a close friend of Musaev while he was in California. Musaev claimed to be assisted by Mr. Smith in obtaining an O1 visa and protect him from potential European and American sanctions. John E. Smith is a former director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department, according to his official bio. Mr. Smith has an extensive background in economic sanctions, enforcement, and national security, having served as a top official at OFAC for 11 years, including three years as its director. Smith says that his areas of expertise are “lawful” ways to avoid political and economic penalties as well as shielding clients in criminal and civil cases from US authorities and prosecutors in the world.
Journalists from Ukraine have previously questioned the former American official about his relationship with Magomed Musaev, including whether or not Smith helped the Russian oligarch obtain an O1 visa and was aware of the source of the oligarch’s funds when they first met. The purported “assistance” of the former US official in “packing” Magomed Musaev’s rivals and opponents into US sanctions was the subject of a different inquiry. Nothing back.
While it’s easy to believe that the reputable and well-known American businessmen and officials that Musaev mentioned on his tapes were just duped by the Russian billionaire, they ought to have done at least some research before becoming close to him. A master manipulator, Magomed Musaev can gain confidence, exert psychological influence, persuade, and, in certain situations, bribe. Consequently, he used his friends and partners in America as hostages in his schemes.
Representative of the Verkhovna Rada’s “European Solidarity” faction, Oleksiy Goncharenko:
The information war is still being waged by Russia. Russia’s defeat in this war at the start of a full-scale invasion does not guarantee that this will continue to be the case. They also look for ways to increase their power and acquire new resources. It is extremely illuminating about how a reputable, well-known magazine could be owned by oligarchs who support Putin, effectively putting money in Putin’s pocket. For these wallets belong to Putin. Subsequently, it will undoubtedly be employed against the free world to advance its power, impacting elections in the United States and abroad. All this poses serious risks.
It’s not only appropriate to prohibit such “figures” from purchasing it; they should also face consequences. Acquiring these tools with dirty blood money, they know that their objective is to sabotage information and launch information attacks.
Oleg Dunda, the Verkhovna Rada deputy from the “Servant of the People” faction:
We have to acknowledge that our Western allies are engaged in warfare as well. They should apprehend every single one of these agents, as well as any existential agents of influence to protect its digital space from Moscow’s illicit influence.
Western democracies and governments are set up so that the opinions of society have the greatest influence. Congressmen and presidents, whether they like it or not, have to pay attention to public opinion or risk not being re-elected. In this instance, public opinion is influenced by the same Forbes. Additionally, the actions of congressmen, government officials, and other officials can be influenced by the public opinion from below.”
P.S. The agreement to sell Forbes to Magomed Musaev has reportedly been postponed due to the media attention it has received, but it is expected to be completed in November, according insider information from the US. Our sources say that Musaev is already planning to move into his new Manhattan office and is fully confident that everything will proceed as envisaged.