Stop what you’re doing. Go watch Rachel Maddow untangle the wild connections in a real estate deal that netted Trump over $50 million.
- Deutsche Bank gets into $630 million of hot water with Obama’s feds because of laundring Russian oligarchs’ money — moving $10 billion out of Russia
- The head of Deutsche Bank ends up running the Bank of Cyprus, which is Russian oligarchs’ favorite bank
- In 2004, Donald Trump buys a fabulously overwrought Palm Beach estate — Maison de l’Amitie — from the bankruptcy of tax-evading healthcare tycoon Abe Grosman for $40 million
- At the same time, there’s a multi-billionaire Russian — Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Fertilizer King — trying to move his wealth into real estate trust to avoid paying some of his billions to his ex-wife
- Rybolovlev happens to be one of two vice-chairmen of the Bank of Cyprus
- In 2008, Rybolovlev buys Maison de l’Amitie from Trump for $95 million, 2-1/2 times more than Trump paid for it
- Trump claims transaction happened without his ever meeting Rybolovlev
- The other vice-chairman of the Bank or Cyprus, and the majority shareholder is Wilbur Ross, Trump’s just confirmed Commerce Secretary
- At the time of the windfall from Rybolovlev, Trump was having very public problem making good on a $40 million loan from Deutsche Bank
Explosive, no? (A bullet list doesn’t do it justice. Watch the video.)
As many dots as Maddow connects, there’s one gaping hole in the narrative: why was Rybolovlev willing to overspend by as much as $60 million for a Florida estate? Moving money out of the way of the ex-wife doesn’t seem like sufficient motivation to give away tens of millions to not-yet-even-candidate Trump.
This must be connected to another deal (or deals). Some part of the overpayment bought somebody (maybe Rybolovlev) something other than a Xanadu of bad taste in South Florida. What did that extra money buy? Why wasn’t that investment made directly?
You know what might clear this up? Tax returns.