Trump/Russia/Wikileaks: Business ties with Russia

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As a result of his multiple bankruptcies, Trump has found it difficult to get financing through American banks.  As a result, he has rely on financing through foreign banks.  Even though Trump claims that he does not have any investments in Russia, many of his businesses outside of Russia have entanglements with Russian financiers who have direct ties to Putin.

The significance of these dealings with Russians is because Russian oligarchs are generally suspected of corrupt practices.  These practices are a result of relationship among Russia’s business elite, government security groups, and criminal organizations.  People in these positions of power got there because Putin or high ranking officials put them there.  All members of organized crime have deep direct and indirect connections with members of the government.

Of Trump’s properties, the Trump SoHo project is a prime example of these business ties.  One of Trump’s partners on the project was Felix Sater who was convicted in a stock manipulation and money-laundering scheme in New York state.  Sater was a major player in the Bayrock group. In a lawsuit against the Bayrock Group, it was claimed that the they were involved with criminal Russian financial interests. The accusations included tax evasion and money laundering.

One source of financing recruited by the Bayrock Group for the SoHo project was Alexander Mashkevich.  Mashkevich was a mining billionaire from Kazakhstan.   In 2011, Belgian authorities accused him of being a participant in a money laundering scheme.  He and two other partners paid a fine and admitted no wrongdoing.

Trump was absolved of knowing of these criminal connections.  However, he hired Sater into the Trump Organization.  After 2007, Sater was traveling to Russia carrying business cards identifying him as a senior adviser to Trump with a Trump Organization phone number and email address.

There has been a number of Federal indictments in New York, California, and Illinois that allege that people who bought Trump condos include felons and others accused of money laundering for Ukrainian, Russian, and Asian criminal organizations.  One of these indictments names Anatoly Golubchik and Michael Sall, who own condos in Trump International Beach Resort in Florida, along with Vadim Trincher who owns a unit in Trump Tower as members of a Russian-American organized crime group.  They were accused of running an illegal gambling and money-laundering operation.

Money laundering was an issue for Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino.  The casino was fined in 2015 for failing to report suspicious transactions.  The Trump Organization admitted in failing to implement a anti-money laundering program which resulted in them failing to properly file required currency transaction reports and failed to keep records as required by law.

Trump’s first business venture in Toronto, Canada was with two Russian-Canadian entrepreneurs.  In a real estate conference in 2008, Donald Trump Jr. said that Russians represented a disportionate cross-section of the Trump organization’s assets in places like Dubai, Trump SoHo, and elsewhere in New York.

Real estate broker, Dolly Lenz, sold about 65 condos in Trump World in Manhattan to Russian investors.  She said that many of them sought personal meetings with Trump.  She added that they became friendly with him and many of the meetings happened in Trump’s office at Trump Tower.

In review conducted by Reuters, there was at least 63 individuals with Russian address or Russian passports that bought at least $100 million in Trump properties in Florida. Many of these buyers include elite business leaders and second and third tier government leaders. There was no evidence of any crime found in this review.

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