President Trump is the first person to be sued over 3,000 times before entering the nation’s highest office. Now, the lawsuit by his former development partners Bayrock – led by a mafia associate, Russian emigre Felix Sater – has just exposed a direct tie between Donald Trump’s New York City development activities and Vladimir Putin’s money.
The failed Trump SoHo condominium-hotel project yielded a lawsuit by former Bayrock executive Jody Kriss sued his former employer and Sater – who was Trump’s business partner and longtime advisor – for refusing to pay employee-related bonuses he had earned. Kriss told Bloomberg News that Sater financed the operations, and he had a strange method of determining whose money to borrow for projects:
Kriss said in an interview that an Icelandic competitor of the FL Group also contacted him to invest in Bayrock. When he took that offer to Sater and Arif they told him, he says, that the money behind Icelandic banks “was mostly Russian” — and that they had to take FL’s funds for deals they were doing with Trump because the investment firm was “closer to Putin.”
“I thought it was a lie or a joke when they said Putin,” Kriss recalls. “I didn’t know how to make sense of it at all.”
Felix Sater’s controversial presence became front page news earlier this year when the New York Times busted him conducting a secret diplomatic “peace plan” mission with Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, resulting in a document being ultimately hand delivered to disgraced General Michael Flynn in the White House before he was fired.
Right after last year’s election, Sater told a Russian news media outlet that he had contacted or advised the Trump Campaign. A former senior advisor to the Trump Organization, Sater was involved in multiple deals ending in litigation, and the failed Fort Lauderdale Trump Tower project resulted in his sealed felony conviction for racketeering with New York’s La Cosa Nostra being revealed.
Ironically, Sater’s criminal past was only revealed because he left a copy of the paperwork on a Bayrock hard drive after stepping down from his duties. A sympathetic whistleblower at the company shared that information with Jody Kriss to help his case.
Donald Trump has testified under oath about Sater but mostly pretends like he doesn’t know the convicted felon:
“He was supposedly very close to the government of the United States as a witness or something,” Trump said. “I don’t think he was connected to the Mafia. He got into trouble because he got into a barroom fight.”
“I don’t know him very well,” Trump added, saying that he hadn’t conversed very often with Sater. “If he were sitting in the room right now I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”
Senate investigators are demanding records related to Trump’s money laundering violations from FinCEN (the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network). While FinCEN holds the records and settles fines for the US Treasury Department, it is the IRS which has Special Agents that investigate money laundering, and it was their work which led to a Trump’s Taj Mahal casino being fined twice for 20 years worth of money laundering violations.
There’s a high likelihood that some of Donald Trump’s tax returns could be part of the files that Senator Wyden (D-OR) wants to review. The nature of these offenses raises the specter that Donald Trump isn’t under IRS audit, but that he could be under investigation by the IRS’ criminal enforcement unit.
BBC interviewed Donald Trump in 2013 and when he asked about the Trump SoHo project, the developer became very defensive and ended the interview. Later, the Trump Organization put out their own secretly recorded copy of the interview and used very obvious editing to excise the questions about Felix Sater.
Just watch Donald Trump run away when questioned about Felix Sater and his ties to the mob:
— John Sweeney (@johnsweeneyroar) February 21, 2017
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Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.