Trump’s Role In Russian Money Laundering Investigated

There’s more to Donald Trump Jr.’s e-mails than meets the eye.

In the shadow of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, Donald Trump was feted by Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov and his pop-star son, Emin. “I’m in Moscow for Miss Universe tonight,” Trump tweeted on November 9. “Picking a winner is very hard, they are all winners. Total sellout of arena. Big night in Russia!”

Trump’s Russia visit in 2013 was far more than just an exercise in showmanship. Agalarov arranged at least one two-hour dinner for Trump at Moscow’s Nobu with high-powered Kremlin officials. Noteworthy among them, was Herman Gref, CEO of state-run Sberbank. “[Trump] is lively with a positive energy and a good attitude toward Russia,” Gref said in an interview. Trump was equally effusive. “I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the-government people,” Trump told Hugh Hewitt in 2015.

Trump's role in Russian money laundering
Donald Trump with Miss Universe 2013, Russian oligarch, Aras Agalarov, and his pop-star son, Emin.

Post sanctions, an effort to launder Russian money.

A year after the Moscow Miss Universe, the U.S. and E.U. imposed sanctions on Sberbank after the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Sberbank CEO Herman Gref began looking for a way to move roubles out of the country. He found it in 2015. Gref’s son and another oligarch bought the Bank of Cyprus as a go-between for illegal Russian funds. A Russian laundromat, if you will. The deal was overseen by the bank’s vice-chairman, Wilbur Ross.

“Cyprus has a reputation as a laundromat for the Russians who are trying to avoid sanctions,” Rep. Mike Quigley told The Daily Beast. Paul Manafort, Trump’s Campaign Manager, also used the Bank of Cyrus to launder some of his own dirty money, including $12.7m he illegally got from a pro-Kremlin party in the Ukraine. Wilbur Ross, the chief engineer of the Russian-Cyprus deal, is now Trump’s Commerce Secretary, linking a key presidential ally to the Cyprus-based ruble washing machine.

Trump's role in Russian money laundering.
Donald J. Trump appoints Wilbur Ross, the vice-chair of Russian-owned Bank of Cyprus, as his Commerce Secretary. Trump’s role in Russian money laundering is now under investigation.

Russian oligarch offers dirt on Hillary Clinton.

A year after the Bank of Cyprus was acquired by the Russians, on June 3 last year, an e-mail popped into Donald Trump Jr.’s inbox from British Publicist Rob Goldstone. Goldstone represents Emin Agalarov, the pop-star whose father, Aras, partnered with Trump in Miss Universe. The same oligarch who introduced Trump to Sberbank CEO, Herman Gref, who indirectly owns the Bank of Cyprus. The e-mail offered the Trump campaign explosive “kompromat” on Hillary Clinton:

“The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with [Emin’s] father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” Goldstone wrote to Don Jr.

“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin,” Goldstone said.

“If it’s what you say, I love it,” Don Jr. replied.

The eldest Trump son looped in then Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Kushner has ties to another Russian bank and diplomats. A few days later, Manafort and Kushner attended the follow-up meeting with Russian state attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower on June 9, 2106.  Also present was Ike Kaveladze, Aras Agalarov’s US based deputy, who is suspected of laundering $1.4Bn in Russian dirty money through fake Citibank accounts in 2000.

Trump's role in Russian money laundering.
A Russian oligarch, acting as a broker for Russia’s Crown Prosecutor offered Donald Trump Jr. (right), dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Senate, House committees probe Trump’s role in Russian money laundering.

Donald Trump’s personal connection to Russian oligarchs, their money-laundering deputies and Wilbur Ross raises an important question. What role, if any, does the Trump Organization play in laundering dirty Russian money? Furthermore, did Trump’s Russia support come as part of a cash-fueled relationship?

Senate and House Intelligence Committees are now looking for specific ties to money laundering. This week, they finally began receiving data from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). FinCEN’s mission is to combat money laundering and protect national security from illicit use. If investigators find proof of Trump’s role in Russian money laundering, it seems like the probe could reach a very different level of criminality.

 

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