Trump Associate Agrees to Cooperate in International Money Laundering Investigation

A for­mer busi­ness asso­ciate of President Donald Trump has agreed to coop­er­ate in an inter­na­tion­al mon­ey laun­der­ing inves­ti­ga­tion tar­get­ing a Kazakh fam­i­ly whom he helped make real estate deals with Trump, the Financial Times report­ed Thursday.

The Russian-born Felix Sater is a “career crim­i­nal” with alleged ties to Russian and American orga­nized crim­i­nal groups, Bloomberg reported.

Trump Soho in Manhattan (Photo: Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Sater for­mer­ly worked at a real estate devel­op­ment firm called the Bayrock Group, which part­nered with Trump and his chil­dren Donald Jr. and Ivanka on sev­er­al deals between 2002 and about 2011, the out­let claims.

Most notably, Bayrock part­nered with the Trumps on the con­struc­tion of the Trump Soho hotel and con­do­mini­um in Manhattan.

Bayrock also once had an office in Trump Tower, in Midtown Manhattan, two floors beneath Trump’s own.

Trump has repeat­ed­ly insist­ed that he bare­ly knows Sater despite the accounts of for­mer Bayrock employ­ees who say the two men met fre­quent­ly while Sater worked for the company.
Bloomberg also report­ed that Sater used to car­ry a Trump Organization busi­ness card and once accom­pa­nied the now-pres­i­dent and his chil­dren to Moscow.

In October, the Financial Times report­ed that Sater had helped the fam­i­ly of Viktor Khrapunov invest mil­lions of dol­lars in US real estate through front com­pa­nies – includ­ing buy­ing apart­ments in Trump Soho.

Now, Sater has turned on the Khrapunovs and is coop­er­at­ing with lawyers and pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors pur­su­ing civ­il cas­es against the fam­i­ly across three con­ti­nents, accord­ing to the Financial Times’ Thursday report.

Trump is not the pri­ma­ry focus of the inves­ti­ga­tion, but the devel­op­ment comes as Special Counsel Robert Mueller is look­ing into mon­ey laun­der­ing by his asso­ciates, The New York Times reports.

Khrapunov is the ex-may­or of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, and a for­mer ener­gy minister

Khrapunov is the ex-may­or of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, and a for­mer ener­gy min­is­ter. His fam­i­ly is accused of “clean­ing” illic­it mon­ey by pur­chas­ing and quick­ly sell­ing lux­u­ry US prop­er­ties, like the Trump-brand­ed con­dos Sater helped them buy, accord­ing to a joint inves­ti­ga­tion by McClatchy and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Both Viktor Khrapunov and his son Ilyas face mon­ey laun­der­ing charges in the US and charges in Kazakhstan. Ilyas’ father-in-law, Mukhtar Ablyazov, also faces Kazakh crim­i­nal charges over US$ 10 bil­lion that dis­ap­peared from the bank he owned until it was seized by reg­u­la­tors in 2009.

The three men main­tain that they are the vic­tims of polit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The mount­ing evi­dence of Trump’s ties to indi­vid­u­als accused of mon­ey laun­der­ing is rais­ing ques­tions about the pre­cau­tions he’s tak­en to dis­cour­age the invest­ment of ille­gal­ly-obtained funds into his glob­al real estate empire.

WRITTEN BY KYLE MACKIE

Trump Associate Agrees to Cooperate in International Money Laundering Investigation

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