Home U.S. AT&T Chairman Sits on Board of China-Linked Private Equity

AT&T Chairman Sits on Board of China-Linked Private Equity

In the wake of the suspicious Christmas morning bombing of an AT&T network sites located about a block away from the telecom giant’s regional offices in downtown Nashville, both the perpetrators and their motives remain unknown. 

Regardless of what comes to pass, there is a link between AT&T, Dominion Voting Systems, and the Chinese Communist Party that is worth taking a closer look at. This possible connection centers on AT&T Chairman William E. Kennard. 

Kennard, who also sits on the Board of Directors for Ford Motor Company, MetLife, Duke Energy, and Staple Street Capital, the private equity firm that is the sole owner of Dominion Voting Systems, was appointed Chairman of AT&T’s Board of Directors on Nov. 6, three days after the presidential election.

The Chairman was general counsel for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 1993 to 1997 and was promoted to FCC Chairman in 1997 under Bill Clinton. He held the position until January of  2001. 

After leaving the FCC, Kennard joined The Carlyle Group, another private equity firm, in May of 2001, serving as the group’s Executive Director. In a 2001 article by The Guardian, former President George H.W. Bush gave “speeches for the company and is paid with stakes in the firm’s investments, believed to be worth at least $80,000 per appearance.”

Official photo from circa 2009 of then-U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. William Kennard. Kennard was elected chairman of the board of AT&T in March 2020. (Image: U.S. Department of State)
Official photo from circa 2009 of then-U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. William Kennard. Kennard was elected chairman of the board of AT&T in March 2020. (Image: U.S. Department of State)

In 1993, billionaire George Soros invested $100 million in Carlyle Group according to an article by the Washington Post.

During the Obama administration, Kennard, who also holds a seat on the Board of Trustees at Yale where he earned his law degree, was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the European Union in 2009. He served in the role until 2013. 

Kennard has served on the AT&T Board of Directors since 2014. 

Staple Street Capital and Communist China

Two co-founders of Staple Street Capital, Stephen Owens and Hootan Yaghoobzadeh, also worked at Carlyle Group. Owens worked at Carlyle until 2009 when he formed Staple Street, while Yaghoobzadeh left Carlyle in 2003 and served as Cerebus Capital Management’s Vice President until Staple Street was founded. 

Staple Street Capital acquired Dominion Voting Systems in 2008 for an undisclosed sum. The deal was arranged by UBS Securities LLC, which ultimately falls under the UBS Group of companies. 

Three of the four members on the Bloomberg profile page for UBS Securities LLC were Chinese nationals as of Dec. 4, according to The Epoch Times. The profile has since changed to reflect no Chinese names, while Staple Street’s webpage was reduced to a simple landing page with only two links. 

One of the Chinese names previously found in the profile was Ye Xiang, founder of VisionGain Capital who was Secretary for Foreign Financial Institutions for the People’s Bank of China (PBoC). 

In 2014, UBS Securities LLP arranged a private placement of $200 million for Staple Street Capital II, L.P. 

Staple Street Capital III, L.P. then formed in 2020 and obtained $400 million from UBS Securities LLP on Oct. 8.

UBS Securities Co. is a company that falls under the UBS Group umbrella. UBS Securities Co. is headquartered in Beijing and was founded in 2006 by CCP state enterprises after Beijing Securities flopped. UBS Group and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) bought 24.99 percent of UBS Securities Co. in 2007. UBS Group was limited to an investment size under 25 percent in order to flout Communist Party rules on foreign investment. A year later, UBS Group acquired IFC’s portion of the investment.

The remaining 75 percent was owned by a variety of Chinese state enterprises. 

The sign for the UK headquarters of the Swiss banking group UBS after it was announced that unauthorised trades by an investment banker had cost the bank 1.3 billion GBP on September 15, 2011 in London, England. (Image: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
The sign for the UK headquarters of the Swiss banking group UBS after it was announced that unauthorized trades by an investment banker had cost the bank 1.3 billion GBP on September 15, 2011, in London, England. (Image: Oli Scarff / Getty Images)

Cheng Yisun was involved in the establishment of UBS Securities and served as its general manager. He said: “UBS Securities in Beijing is actually a Chinese Communist Party company and a small share of the UBS Group was given to UBS just to use the name ‘UBS.’”

In 2018 when the CCP changed its ownership rules to allow majority foreign ownership of state enterprises, UBS Group increased its stake in UBS Securities Co. to 51 percent, thereby making UBS Securities Co. a subsidiary of UBS Group. 

Then-People’s Republic of China (PRC) Vice Premier Wang Qishan met with UBS Vice Chairman Leon Brittan in 2010. This meeting was publicized by CCP mouthpiece People’s Daily and demonstrated that UBS had become a political asset of Party officials. 

Wang Qishan is now PRC Vice President. 

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan in the Chinese Communist Party headquarters of Zhongnanhai on April 8, 2019, in Beijing. (Image: Kenzaburo Fukuhara - Pool/Getty Images)
Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan in the Chinese Communist Party headquarters of Zhongnanhai on April 8, 2019, in Beijing. (Image: Kenzaburo Fukuhara — Pool / Getty Images)

In life, nothing is for free, especially $600 million in capital market infusions. Especially when it comes to shaking hands with Beijing, it can be said with certainty: gifts are debts. 

Although the correlations and flow of money between Staple Street, UBS Group (and the CCP behind them), and Dominion Voting Systems only show a dubious and suspect series of connections, they are not evidence of foul play in the Presidential Election on their own.  

However, the connections allow for a case to be made that conflict of interest is in play. 

After all, it was Dominion’s systems that were used in each of the battleground states where Joe Biden miraculously defeated record turnouts by Trump’s supporters. Biden won each state by very slim margins; many of the voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election center on claimed discrepancies and vulnerabilities involving Dominion. 

AT&T’s media empire

In 2016, AT&T announced a merger with Time Warner. After President Trump of the merger that “personally, I’ve always felt that that was a deal that’s not good for the country,” the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in 2017 to block the merger alleging the deal violated antitrust laws. 

In 2018, a six-week trial was held in the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C. where Judge Richard Leon presided. Leon ultimately ruled in favor of AT&T and Time Warner on  June 12, 2018. Three days later, AT&T announced it had acquired Time Warner. 

Judge Richard Leon was appointed by George W. Bush in September, 2001. 

In the deal, AT&T acquired a litany of media giants, notably, HBO and Cinemax, Turner Entertainment Networks, Turner Broadcasting, Turner Sports, CNN News Group, DC Entertainment and DC Films, New Line Cinema, and all of the Warner Bros. suite of companies.

CNN has been one of the most vocal “authoritative sources” claiming that there simply is no evidence at all of election fraud. In a Dec. 15 article, the network described the allegations as an “urban myth”. CNN ridiculed the Texas v Pennsylvania lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court as “Republican efforts to challenge the basic rules of American democracy by limiting access to the voting booth and potentially again seeking to undo elections they lose.”

AT&T and the NSA: one big surveillance system

In June of 2018, The Intercept published an article titled The Wiretap Rooms — The NSA’s Hidden Spy Hubs in Eight U.S. Cities breaking down a series of National Security Agency classified documents obtained from Edward Snowden alleging that AT&T was essentially passing all Internet traffic that flowed through the U.S. to the NSA for monitoring. 

In 2016, The Daily Beast alleged that AT&T sold data to law enforcement through “Project Hemisphere.”

The Intercept’s article said: “The NSA considers AT&T to be one of its most trusted partners and has lauded the company’s ‘extreme willingness to help.’ It is a collaboration that dates back decades. Little known, however, is that its scope is not restricted to AT&T’s customers,” noting that AT&T uses its enormous market share to route traffic from other providers in America and around the world through its high-speed infrastructure.

Newly released ‘Permanent Record’ by Edward Snowden is displayed on a shelf at Books Inc. on September 17, 2019, in San Francisco, California. (Image: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

The article pointed to eight buildings in major cities in the U.S., publishing photos and their addresses, that were described as “Service Node Routing Complexes”, in which customers’ “data is then routed — in whole or in part — through the eight AT&T buildings, where the NSA taps into it.”

Lead designer Hossein Eslambolchi said that he had to take a polygraph and obtain a government security clearance when he worked on the project. 

In essence, all data that runs through AT&T’s enormous network, whether it originates in the U.S. or internationally, including traffic sent from one international entity to another, but which is routed through AT&T for any reason, is provided to the NSA according to Snowden’s cache. 

NSA agents then use different tools “to search through the full contents of emails, instant messenger chats, web-browsing histories, webcam photos, information about downloads from online services, and Skype sessions.”

“The root of the issue was that the NSA’s technology was not only targeting communications sent to and from specific surveillance targets. Instead, the agency was sweeping up people’s emails if they had merely mentioned particular information about surveillance targets,” said the article. 

In no uncertain terms, Snowden brought the revelation that AT&T had helped the NSA to eavesdrop on the entire world.

A tangled web

When somebody packs an RV full of explosives next to a building and then detonates it, the motive could be anything from mental illness, a disgruntled employee, domestic or international terrorism, or perhaps simply a frustrated citizen who feels the presidential election was stolen from “We the people” at the bequest of the CCP. 

Perhaps someone was simply fed up with an oligarchy using its clout to spy on and lie to American citizens.

Only time will reveal the reasons why the Nashville bombing occurred. Until then, we have merely a tangled web between AT&T, Dominion, and the CCP waiting to be unraveled. 

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  • Neil wrote for the Provincial and National level edition of The Epoch Times in Canada.

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