One of the firms to have made serious bank off of Donald Trump’s unexpected presidential win in the 2016 contest is an outfit known as SPG. The firm, founded by Trump backer Robert Stryk, focuses its business on assisting foreign interests.
And in an apparent new branding exercise, it’s professing its duty to “export [capitalism] to every corner of the globe” while representing clients including the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a big-league Balkan arms dealer.
Last year, Stryk was the focus of a New York Times expose called “How to Get Rich in Trump’s Washington,” which focused in on his work in throwing an Inauguration mega-party hosted by the New Zealand Embassy in D.C., apparently designed to be the biggest and most pro-Trump foreign interest party put on for the event.
It was unobjectionable work that seems to have kicked off SPG’s devoted business development in the “foreign interests” area. Only the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Balkan war-lord types are a touch different to Kiwis serving up nice wine and maybe the occasional cuddly marsupial.
Politico Influence reports that “SPG plans to help the Congolese government coordinate counterterrorism efforts with Washington and will press President Donald Trump’s administration to open a forward operating base in the country.”
That may be desirable and necessary, but capitalism-exporting it’s not quite– and it is still work that will be conducted on behalf of a regime whose president inherited his job from his father and has basically suspended holding elections for a couple of years now, possibly suggesting a shift from the “Democratic” Republic of Congo to the more Autocratic Republic of Congo.
It also seems that a good number of Congolese people believe the same president has been enriching himself and his family in office, which of course does not sound at all unlike the kind of thing we’ve seen play out in this sort of scenario before. According to the United Nations Officer of the High Commission on Human Rights, Congo has also played host to military-led mass raping campaigns. Totally capitalism exporting, right?
As for the Balkan arms trader, Politico notes that:
Venable has also retained SPG to help get one of its clients, Slobodan Tesic, removed from a list of foreign nationals sanctioned by the Treasury Department, according to a letter signed by Tesic’s lawyer, D.E. Wilson Jr. The Trump administration slapped sanctions on Tesic late last year. The Treasury Department described Tesic at the time as “among the biggest dealers of arms and munitions in the Balkans” and accused him of “directly or indirectly [providing] bribes and financial assistance to officials.”
If these claims are true, Tesic might just be the most hardcore practitioner of capitalism ever, albeit also a very, very shady-sounding one, and probably not someone any of us would like to have over for dinner.
As for SPG’s rhetoric about devotion to good works in the form of capitalism-spreading, it looks more like they’re involved in what has always been Washington, D.C.’s favorite variety: Influence-selling, to the highest bidder, even those with major ethical or legal issues. It’s about the money, after all.