Dirty Laundry: Trump and the Russians

Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!

President Elect Donald Trump

The process is simple enough, if you have the money to launder.

Buy some property in dirty cash. It’s clean when it’s sold. There are other ways too. Take out a mortgage or several to buy property and then pay with dirty money. Sell the property later. Hire a corrupt appraiser who inflates the value of the property. You buy it at the inflated price. The seller kicks some money back to you. Lease some property to someone. Give lessee the money to pay the lease. Create a shell company or a few. A business that specializes in the practice can even sell you individuals to serve on the boards of your non-existent companies. There are a lot of variations, and the real estate industry is still poorly regulated in this regard.

As a casino owner, Trump was no stranger to money laundering. Trump Taj Mahal was fined $10 million dollars for willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act several times for intentionally neglecting to comply with “AML program requirements, reporting obligations, and recordkeeping requirements.” The violations go back to 2003. An additional $477,700 fine was assessed for currency transaction violations in 1998.

When Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy for the fourth time, American banks were reticent to loan him any more money. Fortunately, for Trump, there was a lot of money–much of it dirty–floating around Russia and former member countries of the Soviet Union.

A Financial Times investigation has found evidence that one Trump venture has multiple ties to an alleged international money laundering network. Title deeds, bank records and correspondence show that a Kazakh family accused of laundering hundreds of millions of stolen dollars bought luxury apartments in a Manhattan tower part-owned by Mr Trump and embarked on major business ventures with one of the tycoon’s partners.

Trump Soho, another Trumpian building project, was also used for money laundering. It was financed by the Russian mafia’s Bayrock Group, which financed Trump projects around the world.

One of Donald Trump’s signature projects in Manhattan was used by former officials in Kazakhstan to launder dirty money, ultimately profiting the GOP presidential nominee himself. Three apartments in the project were sold multiple times to shell companies owned by the daughter of former Kazakhstan energy minister.

The Trump Soho project itself was financed by Russian mob money, through Felix Sater, the convicted felon, indicted stock fraudster, turned FBI informant whose father is a big shot in the Russian mafia. This is the same Felix Sater whose name was on the Russia-Ukrainian peace plan Trump’s personal attorney delivered to the White House.

Another curious transaction was Trump’s purchase and sale of Maison Amitie, the garish, most expensive house in the United States. Built by a Massachusetts nursing home tycoon who went bankrupt when he was charged with tax evasion, the house was purchased by Trump for $41 million and change. Trump bought the house in 2007 on the cusp of the real estate collapse. Yet Trump was able to sell it to a Russian oligarch in 2008 for $100 million. Five years later, it was valued at $58 million. The oligarch owns a large chunk of the Bank of Cyprus, a money laundering haven used by Russian oligarchs. Oddly, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross owns a large part of the bank as well. The Russian oligarch, by the way, never lived in the house.

So what? At this point, you’d have to have the sentience of a pet rock to ignore the connections of our president to the Russian mafia. The connections are too deep and too broad to be coincidental.

We still don’t know the exact motivation for 1) Trump’s weird praise of Vladimir Putin 2) the reason for seven Trump campaign advisors’ meetings with the Russian ambassador 3) the Russian-friendly change to the Republican Platform 4) the appointment of Paul Manafort to head the Trump campaign 4) the White House appointments of people heavily connected to Russia, 5) the peace plan for Russia and Ukraine partly written by a Russian mobster, or the server in Trump tower continually pinged by the Russian Alfa Bank. (Weirdly, 80% of all the DNS lookups were from Alfa Bank; the other 20% were from Spectrum Health, a healthcare chain for which Dick DeVos, Betsey’s husband, is chairman of the board.

Money laundering one of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The exact nature of the laundry is still not clear, but knowing Trump, it’s hard to believe that he isn’t involved. Aside from laundering money through his casino, there is no public evidence of malfeasance. There’s more than enough evidence to warrant a serious investigation, however.



Discuss

8 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. As hyperbolic as it sounds, our

    country and our democracy is at stake. It’s already falling apart before our eyes.

    If you’re on Twitter, read this by Peter Daou

    https://twitter.com/peterdaou/status/840387899996680192

    • I read it

      (My much longer comment got eated, damn it.)

      I find him to be all over the map. To pick my favorite point, though.

      Peter Daou‏Verified account @peterdaou Mar 10
      3. Bannon has explicitly said that the fury of the opposition is perceived as validation of success. FRICTION GIVES THEM TRACTION.

      That is spin by Bannon, and I reject it entirely. I’m not sure why Daou buys it.

      • It may be galloping paranoia,

        but right now it’s starting to feel that the chaos of firing the U.S. attorney’s is intentional. They can’t possibly replace all these guys at once. The rumor is an attorney from Giuliani’s law firm will be appointed in Bharara’s place. Sessions is in charge of the replacements.

        I’m afraid–no evidence–that Bannon is thriving on the chaos of the administration, that abnormalization is his strategy. Trump, quite frankly, is too stupid to have a particularly strategy. He’s completely tactical–all the way up to a minute.

        As far as Daou goes, I’m not a fan of “Twitter storms.” It’s too bad there isn’t a forum for 300-400 character posts.

        • There's a long-running joke...

          …that says Republicans claim doesn’t work, then prove it when they get elected, but never before would we have to take it so literally. State was essentially purged of a lot of its diplomats too. There are lots of Senate-confirmable slots not yet nominated and plenty that don’t require confirmation getting stacked with the worst sort.

  2. "JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE PARANOID

    don’t mean they’re not after you.” anon

    Fred Rich LaRiccia

  3. Money laundering was of course a hallmark of the Watergate scandal.

    The slush fund used by Nixon’s operatives to finance all of the dirty tricks to disrupt the Democratic presidential primaries initially consisted of $1.7 million in unspent campaign contributions that were laundered through a bank in Mexico. (P. 35 of Kenneth Olson’s book on Watergate).

    Just can’t help but continue to see uncanny parallels between the Watergate and Trump/Russia scandals.

    • High crimes concern

      money and power. And people who go to Washington usually want one or both of those.

      The difference, however, is that politics on the Right has gone global. Paul Manafort worked on McCain’s and Trump’s campaigns. He also worked for Russia-sponsored candidates in Ukraine. There is a species of conservative–I think our EdgarTheArmenian was one–who like Russia and use their propaganda sites as news. I’ve been following some national security types on Twitter, and they are saying that Breitbart and InfoWars are parroting Russian disinformation.

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