ZEMBLA-journalists have found that Trump had business and personal ties to oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. Among his contacts are powerful billionaires, suspected of money laundering and fraud.
A ZEMBLA investigation suggests that the American real estate company Bayrock, through which Donald Trump constructed hotels and apartment complexes, siphoned off $1.5 million by setting up a corporate structure in the Netherlands in 2007. ZEMBLA discovered that the corporate construction was established on the advice of an external legal counsel, namely Bracewell & Giuliani, also known for Rudi Giuliani, former mayor of New York and Trump confidante. The ultimate beneficiary owners of the Dutch business construction: the director of Bayrock and the Khrapunov family from Kazakhstan. Head of the family is Viktor Khrapunov, a former mayor and governor from Kazakhstan, who has been accused of embezzling hundreds of millions of state assets. In 2013 the Khrapunov family bought three apartments in Trump SoHo: Bayrock and Donald Trump are owners of that hotel-condominium.
One of the Bayrock owners is the Russian born Felix Sater, Trump’s former business partner. Though Sater spent years trying to line up deals with Donald Trump’s real estate organization all over the world, Trump has denied knowing Sater. The two met in 2003 when Trump was looking to expand his business globally. Because Sater failed to divulge his criminal history to Trump, he became a liability, putting the president’s financial interest at substantial risk. Should civil or criminal misconduct be proven in the care of Bayrock, Trump could be found complicit, possibly costing him millions of dollars in fines and/ or penalties. The president has announced he will get to the bottom of the matter, but documents from the Bayrock corporation show otherwise: Trump actually tried to benefit from the situation, even risking leverage from anyone who knew of his jeopardy.
In the Netherlands, we have great public broadcasting. There are six different agencies — all with their own signature, be it political, religious or secular. Thanks to government funding all agencies can focus on their journalistic duties. Public broadcasting is necessary to make sure all Dutch citizens have access to well-made television- and radio programs. Without having to worry too much about advertisers, we can do our job. It is thanks to this funding my colleagues at VARA could do some serious investigative journalism and dig into Donald Trump’s ties with Russia. They translated their Trump-documentary in English for American audience.
Since before his presidency there have been numerous clues suggesting Donald Trump is linked to Russia and apparent Russian interests. Trumps security adviser Michael Flynn, had to flee from his role as adviser because of his ties to Russia. Trump wasn’t yet in office, but Flynn was already promising the Russians the U.S. would lift certain sanctions that were put on Russia after the Crimea-crisis.
During the presidential campaign Attorney General Jeff Sessions also had meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak. During his confirmation hearing Sessions denied contact. The Attorney General lied under oath and said he had ‘no communications with the Russians’ during the election campaign. Also, his trip to Cleveland to meet with Kislyak was paid for with campaign money.
The FBI is now investigating potential links between the Trump campaign aides and the Russian government, to find out what’s true about Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 election.
In a response to media coverage on Trumps’ Golden Shower Gate, the president went full on denial by tweeting: “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” Using all the capslock in the world, trying to hide the truth.
Hasna El Maroudi, Contributor
Journalist and columnist