Trump’s Condos and the Money Laundering for the Russians and Not Only

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Donald Jr. with the pink tie, Michael Dezer, who worked on Trump projects, in the blue sweater, Ivanka, Eric Trump with the blue tie, and Elena Baronoff on the far right. Elena Baronoff was a former Russian Spy. She had originally come to USA as a “Cultural Attaché in Public Diplomacy for the Russian Government”, a title used in the 1980’s by Russian spies that infiltrated business circles. Her job was to introduce Russians from all over the world to the Trump organization — to help them launder their money by buying real estate.

Reuters Reported that many people involved in Putin’s government bought real estate in Sunny Isles, but didn’t report them, to hide these money laundering activities. Three buyers of real estate were accused in federal indictments of belonging to a Russian-American organised crime group and working for a major international crime boss based in Russia. One of them was even arrested for running a gambling and money laundering ring in the Trump tower in Manhattan Trump condos Records show that more than 1,300 Trump condominiums were bought not by people but by shell companies.

Trump condo sales that match Treasury’s characteristics of “possible money laundering” totalled $1.5 billion (21% of the 6,400 Trump condos sold in the US). Half of the secretive sales – with a total value of $769 million – were made to a particularly opaque type of shell company called a limited-liability company, LLC, which FinCEN says is “inherently vulnerable to abuse”. Trump himself signed the deed for each secretive sale at Trump Tower and collected $28 million. Secretive Trump condo sales surged in 1997/1998 when most Wall Street banks stopped lending to Trump after his 2 Atlantic City casinos filed for bankruptcy. From 2008 through 2012, shell companies bought 823 Trump condos with $890 million in cash – 25% of units sold. More than 87% of those sales were in Trump-licensed buildings. Secretive sales generated $110 million between 2010 and 2013, records show.

The buyers were largely LLCs that were formed just weeks or days before buying. Most of the transactions give little or no clues about the actual buyers. In July 2016, FinCEN wrote that more than a quarter of the people who controlled the shell companies in Manhattan and Miami-Dade had at one time engaged in “possible criminal activity”. One of Trump project’s engaged a Russia-born developer, who had been convicted of money laundering in the 1990s. In March 2008, a Russian billionaire paid Trump $95 million for a Palm Beach, Florida, estate that Trump had bought 4 years earlier for $41 million. On 10 September 1997, a shell company bought a condo at the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan for $2.26 million, and sold it 8 weeks later to another shell company – for $3 million (a 33% gain). In Miami-Dade County, Florida, a shell company bought a condo in a Trump-licensed building on 12 Augustus 2010 for $956,768.

The company sold the condo the same day to another shell company for $525,000. In 1984, federal prosecutors charged Russian native David Bogatin with taking part in a massive gasoline bootlegging operation and buying five Trump Tower condos for $4.9 million to launder the proceeds. Bogatin pleaded guilty in 1987 and was released from federal prison in 1998. After Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier had been overthrown in 1986, the Haitian government claimed that Duvalier had laundered stolen treasury funds by buying a Trump Tower apartment 54-K for $446,875 in August 1983. Duvalier used the Panama shell company Lasa Trade and Finance to buy the apartment in cash. Trump signed the deed of sale .

 

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