Former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker with Secretary of State Tony Blinken at his State Department office on September 13. Pritzker is the new U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine’s Economic Recovery. [Source:]

On September 14, President Joe Biden appointed former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, an heir to the Pritzker banking dynasty whose net worth is around $3.3 billion, to be Special Representative for Ukraine’s Economic Recovery.

In a statement, Biden said that Ms. Pritzker would “drive the United States’ efforts to help rebuild the Ukrainian economy” by “working in lockstep with the Ukrainian government, our allies and partners, international financial institutions, and the private sector.”

The New York Times emphasized that Ms. Pritzker in her new job would encourage pro-investment strategies in Ukraine, and drum up public and private investment from other nations.[1]

Put in different terms, Pritzker is to help open the floodgates to Ukraine’s economic exploitation by multi-national corporations which stand to profit from a war that the U.S. and Ukraine deliberately provoked as part of a scheme to weaken Russia.

The profits will be astronomical because of the opportunity that the war has presented for “disaster capitalists” and because of the low-wage, low-tax economy that President Volodymyr Zelensky has established.

Zelensky has dismantled progressive labor laws, supported land privatization, and initiated attacks on unions and left-wing politicians and political parties, which have been banned.

Founder and chairman of a private investment firm, PSP Partners, and past member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, Wall Street’s think tank, Pritzker visited Kyiv during her tenure as Commerce Secretary following the February 2014 Maidan coup.

There she helped deliver a $3 billion loan that was contingent on the government adopting neoliberal reforms beneficial to foreign corporations.[2]

Penny Pritzker during a visit to Ukraine in 2015. [Source:]

As a result of the “reforms” championed by Pritzker, U.S. corporations such as Cargill, DuPont (which has long supported Joe Biden’s political career) and Monsanto have been able to invest heavily in Ukrainian agriculture and, according to a report in The Australian National Reviewpurchased more than 17 million hectares of Ukraine’s arable land—more than all the arable land that exists in Italy.[3]

The main shareholders in these latter companies are Wall Street investment firms—The Vanguard Group, BlackRock and Blackstone—which donate heavily to both the Democratic and Republican parties and own major weapons companies like Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin that have done brisk business contributing to the destruction of Ukraine.

An April 2021 report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) made the lifting of a moratorium on the sale of land to foreign companies a condition for the loan package that Pritzker helped to deliver.

poll found that 81% of Ukrainians were against the sale of land to foreigners and lifting of the moratorium, while only 13% were in favor of it.[4]

Geopolitical analyst Drago Bosnic wrote that “the Ukrainian people have not only been quite literally robbed of the lands their ancestors gave their lives for”; they are also “effectively dying in battle to make sure this theft continues unabated.”


A Family Tradition

Penny Pritzker’s involvement in Ukraine’s exploitation follows from a long family tradition.

In 2011, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) discounted a balance of $144 million from a $460 million fine Pritzker had been assessed for illegal bank and loan shark operations at the failed Hinsdale, Illinois, Superior Bank while depositors who were still owed $10.3 million lost their savings.[5] According to journalist Greg Palast, the depositors included “poor folk in [then] Senator [Barack] Obama’s South Side district [who] lost their homes.”

Superior Bank’s failure resulted from years of sub-prime lending combined with fraudulent reporting practices and the deception of regulators.[6] This did not stop Obama—a man supposedly committed to cleaning up the financial system—from appointing Pritzker as Commerce Secretary.

Obama and Penny Pritzker greet each other warmly after Pritzker’s appointment as Commerce Secretary. [Source:]

Obama was also not dissuaded by the abysmal record on labor rights of the Pritzker-owned Hyatt hotel chain. In 2009, it shamefully replaced Latina room cleaners holding the highest rate of injury of any chain with non-union subcontractors after a strike in the Boston Hyatt hotels.[7]

Strikers outside the Boston Hyatt. [Source:]
Abram Pritzker was one of three brothers who inherited the family law firm from their father,
Abram Pritzker [Source:]

After Pritzker’s appointment as Commerce Secretary, Daily Kos ran an article entitled “Penny Pritzker as an example of the criminality of our elites.”

The article noted that the origins of the Pritzker family fortune was Penny’s grandfather, Abram Nicholas Pritzker’s mob connections. Abram was a tax attorney for people in “The Outfit,” the Chicago mob, beginning under Al Capone, and continuing through the 1980s.

The connection to organized crime was reportedly what financed the creation of Hyatt Hotels by Penny’s father, Donald Pritzker, a University of Chicago-trained lawyer, and uncles Jay and Robert Pritzker, who at one time co-owned the Grand Hyatt New York with Donald Trump.

Jay Pritzker with Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan at the White House in 1983. [Source:]

Before Superior Bank, the Pritzkers controlled Frontier Finance, a loan company in Chicago that one source told historian Gus Russo “is believed to be the secret to the origins of the family’s involvement with criminals.”

The president of Frontier Finance was Frank Buccieri, whose brother, Fiore “Fifi” Buccieri, was one of the Outfit’s top gambling bosses and a dreaded “juice collector” whom Life magazine in 1969 called the “leader of [Sam] Giancana’s assassination squads.”[8]

Abram owned another venture, Franklin Investments, in partnership with Arthur Greene, who was described by the Chicago Crime Commission as the “brains of all the Chicago rackets,” and was an investor for Meyer Lansky.[9]

In 1953, Jay and Robert Pritzker founded the Marmon Group, an industrial holding company which invested in military-defense contractors, and were basically corporate raiders buying industrial companies and laying off much of the work force to show profitability before selling.

The Pritzkers were close associates of Sidney Korshak, a labor lawyer and fixer for the Chicago mob, and Burton Kanter, a CIA and Mossad-linked lawyer specializing in tax evasion, who helped the Pritzker’s off-shore money in the Bahamas-based Castle Bank, a CIA outfit founded by Kanter and the CIA’s mob liaison, Paul Helliwell.[10]

That the Pritzkers became the largest depositors in the Castle Bank—a source of revenue for CIA black operations—indicates not only their mob but also CIA connections, which undoubtedly persist to this day.

Penny Pritzker’s closeness to Obama (she gave $500,000 for his second inaugural and was his top fundraiser) is one sign of her family’s continued work for the Agency, as Obama comes from a CIA family, worked for a CIA front company after he graduated from Columbia University, and gave the CIA everything they wanted when he was president.[11]

Barack Obama tells Europe to get its act together – POLITICO
Obama speaks on his home turf at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. [Source:]

The CIA has been heavily involved in the Ukraine conflict since Obama helped coordinate the 2014 Maidan coup, with the CIA operating as always at the behest of large financial interests.

The latter can certainly count on Ms. Pritzker in her new role, where she will be taking the Pritzker tradition of exploiting others to make money to a whole new level.

  1. Michael Crowley, “Biden Creates Role to Buoy Investment in Ukraine,” The New York Times, September 15, 2023, A11. 

  2. Crowley, “Biden Creates Role to Buoy Investment in Ukraine,” A11. 

  3. The Australian National Review report has been disputed in U.S. media such as USA Today. Cargill announced last year that it had become majority owner of the deep-water port terminal called Neptune in the Odessa region on the Black Sea. 

  4. As many as two-thirds of respondents believed that a decision of such importance for the state should have been made after a referendum. Nearly 60% believed that agricultural land should be owned by the state. 

  5. Jeremy Kuzmarov, Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2019), 36. 

  6. The Pritzker name is visible all over Chicago, sponsoring the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library and the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo. The family’s private foundations and charities have recently funneled a lot of money into what is called “gender affirming medical care,” the controversial treatment that critics say encourages youths to undergo transition surgery or take puberty blockers without first going through adequate therapy. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Penny’s brother, has signed off on transgender legislation, in essence making “gender affirming care” the law in Illinois. Jennifer Pritzker’s personal foundation, Tawani, leverages her chunk of the family’s vast fortune to make pro-transgender grants to universities and establish university departments promoting this ideology. Even the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine now offers a class claiming to teach a new generation of doctors how to fight “misinformation” in the medical field, including alleged falsehoods about “gender-affirming hormone care.”  

  7. Kuzmarov, Obama’s Unending Wars, 37; Greg Palast, “Billionaire Bankster Penny Pritzker Breaks into Obama’s Cabinet,” May 2, 2013. UNITE HERE, the union that represents Hyatt workers, initiated a five-year boycott of the Hyatt that ended only when Hyatt agreed to pay the fired workers $1 million. 

  8. See Gus Russo, Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America’s Hidden Power Brokers (New York: Bloomsbury, 2006). 

  9. Whitney Webb, One Nation Under Blackmail – Vol. 1: The sordid union between Intelligence and Organized Crime that gave rise to Jeffrey Epstein (Walterville, OR: Trine Day, 2022), 31. 

  10. Webb, One Nation Under Blackmail, 32. Senior editor of the Journal of Taxation who financed movies such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kanter was the criminal mastermind of a long-running kickback and tax-evasion scheme in which money was siphoned from funds managed by the Prudential and Travelers insurance companies. He was rewarded for his service to the Pritzkers by being appointed to the Board of Directors of Hyatt Hotels. 

  11. Penny claims to have met Obama in the early 1990s when her kids were playing on a basketball team coached by Michelle Obama’s brother, Craig Robinson, though the meeting is unlikely to have been coincidental.