Russian mobsters bailed out Trump when he went bankrupt — now they own him

In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. attended a real estate conference, where he stated that

Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.

As it turns out, that may have been an understatement. Human rights lawyer Scott Horton, whose work in the region goes back to defending Andrei Sakharov and other Soviet dissidents, has gone through a series of studies by the Financial Times to show how funds from Russian crime lords bailed Trump out after yet anther bankruptcy. The conclusions are stark.

Among the powerful facts that DNI missed were a series of very deep studies published in the [Financial Times] that examined the structure and history of several major Trump real estate projects from the last decade—the period after his seventh bankruptcy and the cancellation of all his bank lines of credit. …

The money to build these projects flowed almost entirely from Russian sources. In other words, after his business crashed, Trump was floated and made to appear to operate a successful business enterprise through the infusion of hundreds in millions of cash from dark Russian sources.

He was their man.

Yes, even that much seems fantastic, and the details include business agencies acting as a front for the GRU, billionaire mobsters, a vast network of propaganda sources, and an American candidate completely under the thumb of the Kremlin.

It reads like the a B-grade spy novel, a plot both too convoluted—and too bluntly obvious—for John le Carré. The problem is it may not be a conspiracy theory. It may be a conspiracy.

Horton’s analysis comes from piecing together information in three Financial Times “deep reports.” One of these focused on Sergei Millian, the head of the Russian American Chamber of Commerce in the US at the time of Trump Jr.’s “money pouring in from Russia” claim.

Mr Millian insists his Russian American Chamber of Commerce (RACC) has nothing to do with the Russian government. He says it is funded by payments from its commercial members alone.

Most of the board members are obscure entities and nearly half of their telephone numbers went unanswered when called by the Financial Times. An FT reporter found no trace of the Chamber of Commerce at the Wall Street address listed on its website.

Why was RACC’s background filled with so many holes? The Financial Times quotes former Russian MP Konstantin Borovoi in tagging the chamber as a front for intelligence operations that dates back to Soviet times.

“The chamber of commerce institutions are the visible part of the agent network . . . Russia has spent huge amounts of money on this.”

Millian helped arrange for Trump to visit Moscow in 2007, and had other outings with Trump in the states, including a visit to horse races in Miami. Millian claims that he had the right to market Trump properties in Russia.

“You could say I was their exclusive broker,” he told Ria. “Then, in 2007-2008, dozens of Russians bought apartments in Trump properties in the US.” He later told ABC television that the Trump Organisation had received “hundreds of millions of dollars” through deals with Russian businessmen.

Despite documents and photos showing Trump with Millian, Trump denied their association during the campaign.

Hope Hicks, Mr Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, said Mr Trump had “met and spoke” with Mr Millian only “on one occasion almost a decade ago at a hotel opening”.

The second Financial Times article puts Trump at the middle of a money laundering scheme, in which his real estate deals were used to hide not just an infusion of capital from Russia and former Soviet states, but to launder hundreds of millions looted by oligarchs. All Trump had to do was close his eyes to the source of the money, and suddenly empty apartments were going for top dollar.

Among the dozens of companies the Almaty lawyers say the Khrapunov laundering network used were three called Soho 3310, Soho 3311 and Soho 3203. Each was a limited liability company, meaning their ownership could easily be concealed.

The companies were created in April 2013 in New York. A week later, property records show, they paid a total of $3.1m to buy the apartments that corresponded with their names in the Trump Soho, a 46-storey luxury hotel-condominium completed in 2010 in a chic corner of Manhattan.

Why would Trump’s organization make such a good means of laundering funds? Because real estate has an arbitrary value. Is that apartment worth $1 million? Two million? Why not $3 million for a buyer who really wants it? When the whole transaction is just one LLC with undisclosed ownership paying another LLC with undisclosed ownership, it’s even neater than hiding the money in an offshore account. And while some businesses require due diligence in looking at the source of funds, real estate is a bit more … flexible.

The laws regulating US real estate deals are scant, experts say. Provisions against terrorism financing in the Patriot Act, passed in the aftermath of the September 11 2001 attacks, obliged mortgage lenders to conduct “know your customer” research. But money launderers pay in cash. Sales such as those of the Trump Soho apartments have passed through this loophole, which was partially closed only this year.

Converting funds stolen overseas into property in the US and cash in the account of an LLC represented a win for both the oligarchs and Trump. Best of all, Trump’s sole requirement was that he pay scant attention to the deal—something at which he was already a proven master. For example, the actual owners of the Trump Soho were another limited liability company, Bayrock. Trump was a partner in the LLC and Bayrock cut the checks Trump received when those apartments were sold. And yet …

In a 2011 deposition, given in a dispute over the Fort Lauderdale project, Mr Trump said he had “never really understood who owned Bayrock”. Jody Kriss, a former Bayrock finance director, has claimed in racketeering lawsuits against his former employer that Bayrock’s backers included “hidden interests in Russia and Kazakhstan”. Bayrock has denied Mr Kriss’s allegations but declined to answer questions about the source of its funds and its relationship with the Khrapunovs.

The third article digs more deeply into the origins of Bayrock and its connection with Trump. That connection … was very close.

The Republican presidential nominee and Bayrock were both based in Trump Tower and they joined forces to pursue deals around the world — from New York, Florida, Arizona and Colorado in the US to Turkey, Poland, Russia and Ukraine. Their best-known collaboration — Trump SoHo, a 46-storey hotel-condominium completed in 2010 — was featured in Mr Trump’s NBC television show The Apprentice.

This is the same group about which Trump said he “never really understood” the ownership.

“I don’t know who owns Bayrock,” Mr Trump said. “I never really understood who owned Bayrock. I know they’re a developer that’s done quite a bit of work. But I don’t know how they have their ownership broken down.”

At the very least, Trump confessed to partnering with, taking money from, and acting as a representative for a corporation whose ownership he didn’t know, in deals that totaled hundreds of millions in countries around the world. However, it seems far more likely that Trump knowingly worked with oligarchs, groups associated with the Russian government, and plain old mobsters. Why? Because he was desperate.

By the 2000s, the property developer and casino owner with ready access to the capital markets and the biggest New York banks was no more. A series of corporate bankruptcies had limited his financing options. Mr Trump had become an entertainer who portrayed a tycoon on television and licensed his name to businesses looking for a brand, leading to fee-making opportunities as disparate as Trump University and Trump Vodka.

The Trump Organization was a hollow shell and Trump was bankrupt, but Donald Trump the public figure was a “successful businessman,” a screen behind which criminal activity could be carried out on a massive scale. Throwing his name at every scheme in existence wasn’t a strategy, it was a fire sale on Trump’s respectability. Steaks? Water? Vodka? Fake real estate school? You pony up the cash, and Trump will slap his name on it. Because by the early 2000s, Trump wasn’t just broke, he had nothing left to pawn. He wasn’t a successful businessman, but he still played one on TV. His image had more value than his real estate portfolio.

But the apartments and buildings where Trump held some degree of ownership could be turned into value again. All it took was partnering with foreign crime bosses looking for a place to stash their cash. To inflate the value of his portfolio, Trump had to do nothing other than look away as the dirty money poured in from one LLC to the next. Citizens in Russia, Kazakhstan, and other former Soviet states lost hundreds of millions, but Trump got a cut as looted funds flowed through offices and apartments in buildings that carried those critical gold letters.

Horton’s evaluation of this material in coordination with the declassified DNI report is that Trump actively worked with and for Russian interests.

What these exposes showed, is that Trump pursued the projects hand in glove with Russian mobsters who worked closely with Putin’s Kremlin …

But based on the information in the Financial Times report, it appears that there are actually two possible answers. Trump may have been actively involved with and working for Russian sources. He might also have simply played the role of useful idiot, displaying his readiness to feign ignorance about any deal … so long as it generated some funds to float his sinking boat.

In the end, there’s not a lot of difference in the outcome. Trump got money. Oligarchs cleaned their cash. Russia got their man.

Trump’s debts to Deutsche Bank track back to Russian mob

Donald Trump’s debt problem is two fold. The first is a money problem: he’s so deeply in debt to various banks around the world that the billions he’s been documented owing to these banks may well exceed the value of his assets — which would mean he’s broke. The second is a perception problem: his financial debt to Russia, combined with allegations that Russia is blackmailing him, and his oddly pro-Russia political policies, create a perception problem. Now it turns out these two problems may be the same thing.

One of the institutions to which Donald Trump is deeply in debt is Germany’s Deutsche Bank. The bank has a rocky history over the past decade of high risk investments and financial instability which mirror those of Trump’s own finances. At last count, Trump owed Deutsche Bank and its subsidiaries a combined $1.3 billion. It never made sense why the bank in question, which has been struggling financially, would have loaned so much money to Trump — who has a long history of not repaying his debts.

In fact the loan from Deutsche Bank is almost certainly one of the primary reasons Trump hasn’t fallen into personal bankruptcy over the past seven years, after American banks stopped loaning him money. And now according to the Independent, it turns out the German bank in question has been busted for running a Russian money laundering scheme.

The money laundering scheme in question involved Deutsche Bank clients illegally moving more than $10 billion out of Russia and into New York among other places. Nothing has yet been publicly disclosed about the identities of these clients, whom they were working with in Russia, or their motives. But the first thing that comes to mind is the possibility that the money which Deutsche Bank loaned to Donald Trump may have illegally come from Moscow.

This is crucial because, while Trump’s massive debts to banks in places like Germany and China have been well documented, there is no definitive evidence that Russian banks have been loaning money to Trump. Donald Trump Jr bragged awhile back that money was pouring into the Trump Organization from Russia, but despite that admission, Russian banks have made a point of covering up whatever money they’ve been putting in Trump’s pocket, and how they’ve been doing it.

And so a German bank inexplicably put more than a billion dollars into Donald Trump’s pocket, even though it’s been struggling financially, and he’s long been known for not repaying his debts to the point that other banks long ago stopped keeping him afloat. It never made sense why Deutsche Bank would have taken such a risk it couldn’t afford. Except now it turns out Deutsche Bank was secretly funneling money from Russia to New York. It’s not proof, but it’s one hell of a new perception problem for Trump.

Trump is at least $300 million in hock to German bank

This from Bloomberg News:

For years, Donald Trump has used a powerful tool when dealing with bankers: his personal guarantee.

Now that guarantee — employed to extract better terms on hundreds of millions of dollars of loans to the Trump Organization — is at the center of a delicate loan-restructuring discussion at Deutsche Bank AG, which is under investigation on several fronts by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The bank is trying to restructure some of Trump’s roughly $300 million debt as part of an attempt to reduce any conflict of interest between the loan and his presidency, according to a person familiar with the matter. Normally, the removal of a personal pledge might lead to more-stringent terms. But there is little normal about this interaction. Trump’s attorney general will inherit an investigation of Deutsche Bank related to stock trades for rich clients in Russia — where Trump says he plans to improve relations — and may have to deal with a possible multibillion-dollar penalty to the bank related to mortgage-bond investigations.

. . .

The scramble to restructure is the latest chapter in Trump’s fraught relationship with Deutsche Bank, one of the few financial institutions on Wall Street that still does deals with a man long known as a publicity-seeking and unconventional real-estate developer who didn’t hesitate to sue his lender eight years ago. 

Deutsche Bank also lends to Trump’s extended family, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Weeks before the election, the bank refinanced most of the $370 million of debt against retail spaces Kushner’s company owns in midtown Manhattan.

. . .

Today, the president-elect owes about $300 million to the bank, nearly half of his outstanding debt, according to a July analysis by Bloomberg. That figure includes a $170-million loan Trump took out to finish his hotel in Washington. He also has two mortgages against his Trump National Doral Miami resort and a loan against his tower in Chicago. All four debts come due in 2023 and 2024. Garten said the Chicago loan no longer has Trump’s personal guarantee because the project has been completed.


What a shame!! Trump’s feelings are hurt, he blames it on Obama!!

No doubt about it.  The so-called president is a petulant child with the emotional maturity of a sixth grader.

Courtesy of the Daily Mail: 

Donald Trump erupted into a ‘ballistic’ Oval Office tirade against his senior staff for failing to fight off Sessions’ recusal amid Russia links and told Priebus and Bannon they weren’t flying on Air Force One to Florida, before storming out, reports have claimed. 

The president was seemingly expecting a celebratory week following his praised speech to Congress on Tuesday but after a fresh round of Russia allegations, Trump was furious over the ‘mini disaster’ according to multiple accounts. 

He was allegedly especially upset over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from all FBI investigations regarding Russia on Thursday and took it out on his senior staff the next day. 

In his ‘ballistic’ rant, Trump gave his aides a verbal lashing and told chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon they wouldn’t be accompanying him on Air Force One to Florida, before storming out on Friday. 

In less than 24 hours after his blow out with staff, Trump released a series of tweets that accused Obama of authorizing a wiretapping on Trump Tower right before the election and called it ‘McCarthyism’. 

Trump gets his feeling hurt, raises hell with his staff, then storms out, jumps on Air Force One, flies to Mar-A-Largo AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE, to play golf all weekend.

Another Russian connected to Trump has died . . . this is #8 !!!

Alex Oronov, organizer of Russia-Ukraine blackmail plan sent to Donald Trump, dies suspiciously

Yet another key figure in the Trump-Russia scandal has suddenly dropped dead. A meeting was organized between Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen, Russian mafia figure Felix Sater, and Ukrainian traitor Andrii Artemenko. They crafted a Kremlin-backed plan which involved Trump using Russian blackmail to oust the president of the Ukraine. That plan was delivered to Michael Flynn’s just before he resigned. The meeting was organized by Alex Oronov – and now he’s dead.

Alex Oronov was the father in law of Michael Cohen’s brother, making them extended family.

Oronov did business in the Ukraine and was connected to Artemenko. It was Artemenko who angrily announced today in an extended Russian-language rant on his Facebook page that Oronov has died. And while he doesn’t say specifically how Oronov died, he directly blames the New York Times article which first exposed the secret plan for causing his death. In other words, he’s vaguely suggesting that Oronov was murdered (perhaps by Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin) as a result of having been publicly exposed.

Talking Points Memo has more details on the death of Alex Oronov, who died two days ago. This makes him at least the fourth Trump-Russia conspirator to die during the scandal. In all, seven prominent Russian operatives have died since the scandal began. Palmer Report has been documenting a running list.

Sergei Krivov died at the Russian consulate in New York on election day with his skull bashed in. Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB agent who contributed intel to the Trump-Russia dossier, was found dead in the back of a car. Sergei Mikhailov, another Russian intel agent, was dragged out of a meeting with a bag on his head.

**** See our full list of Russian operatives who have died during the Trump-Russia scandal for the full rundown.