Der Trumpenführer continues to deny that he has financial ties to Russia, but a Reuters special report shows how vital Russian money has been to the success of Trump branded properties. The report, which only looks at a handful of Trump properties - no review was done of New York properties - reveals nearly $100 million of Russian money poured into seven properties in South Florida. If similar patterns extend to other Trump owned or branded properties, the role of Russian money in Trump's survival would be immense. Trump's own son conceded to the New York Times in the past that Russian money had been crucial to several Trump projects in New York City. While the money came ostensibly from wealthy individuals, one cannot help but wonder whether or not Vladimir Putin had a hand in encouraging such "investments." Here are some report highlights:
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump downplayed his business ties with Russia. And since taking office as president, he has been even more emphatic.“I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia,” President Trump said at a news conference last month. “I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia.”
But in the United States, members of the Russian elite have invested in Trump buildings. A Reuters review has found that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida, according to public documents, interviews and corporate records.
People from the second and third tiers of Russian power have invested in the Trump buildings as well. One recently posted a photo of himself with the leader of a Russian motorcycle gang that was sanctioned by the United States for its alleged role in Moscow’s seizure of Crimea.
The tally of investors from Russia may be conservative. The analysis found that at least 703 – or about one-third – of the owners of the 2044 units in the seven Trump buildings are limited liability companies, or LLCs, which have the ability to hide the identity of a property’s true owner. And the nationality of many buyers could not be determined. Russian-Americans who did not use a Russian address or passport in their purchases were not included in the tally.
The review focused on Florida because the state has a large concentration of Trump-branded buildings, and determining the ownership of properties is easier there than in some other states.
Edgardo Defortuna, a leading Miami developer, estimated that Trump likely made between one percent and four percent in initial sale commissions, based on the standard fees paid on similarly branded projects. If so, Trump stood to reap a total of $20 million to $80 million in Sunny Isles.
Informed of the Reuters analysis of Trump’s Russian condo investors, two Democratic opponents of the president, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), renewed their calls for greater disclosure of his finances.
“While the president has denied having invested in Russia, he has said little or nothing about Russian investment in his businesses and properties in the United States or elsewhere,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “This should concern all Americans and is yet another reason why his refusal to release his tax returns should be met with considerable skepticism and concern.”
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the Republican chairs of the Senate and House intelligence committees, declined to comment.
Schiff, as well as two U.S. intelligence officials and one former senior law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Russian government sometimes directs funding at prominent individuals in the United States and Europe in hopes of improving their perception of Russia.
One wealthy Russian buyer was Alexander Yuzvik. . . . . From 2013 to 2016, Yuzvik was a senior executive at Spetstroi, a state-owned company that has carried out construction projects at military facilities.
If Trump has nothing to hide, he would release all of his tax returns. Those who have nothing to hide do not act like they do.The Spetstroi website says the firm was involved in construction projects at the Moscow training academy of the FSB, Russia’s primary civilian intelligence service and successor of the KGB. Spetstroi also did construction work in the administrative building of the general staff of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service.