Houston Wade, Executive Director
You will notice that since we published part II we have replaced the word “Circumstantial” with the more apt “Overwhelming” in the title of our most recent installment. The Institute for Science and Policy has come to the conclusion that the president-elect of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump, and many of his associates, are without a doubt financially tied and indeed compromised and are acting in their capacity as tools of the Russian state. None of this is circumstantial any longer. President-elect Trump is lying about his investments in and from Russia and his relationship with Russian oligarchs; specifically Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Every day we have a new quote from Trump finding outrage in almost any company, citizen, civil rights leader, or celebrity, and yet only praise for Russia and its leader; a man who has used his position as the head of state to bilk his people of over $200 billion in wealth. The very nature of this good nature is to be found with the deep financial ties Trump has with Russia, and the financial ties those surrounding Trump have with Russia. Should Trump start poking and prodding the Russian Bear he will find himself financially destitute, and to Trump wealth is all that matters.
Trump’s Russian connections have been reported since his first publicized trip to the Soviet Union in 1987 where he claimed after his return from Moscow that, “I like the people, and the people like me.”. Trump mentioned in his book The Art of the Deal how he sought to build luxury towers in Moscow, “I was impressed with the ambition of the Soviet officials to make a deal.” By 1997 Trump was receiving as a gift from the Russian government a $40 million bronze statue of Christopher Columbus to put in his Riverside South development… Only, by this time, Trump no longer had control of Riverside South as he had previously sold the development to a Hong Kong outfit in 1994. The Statue ended up in Puerto Rico where it stands 6ft taller than the Statue of Liberty.
By 2008 Trump himself was saying that he was investing in real estate development in Russia. Trump also had deals with Drinks Americas to ship cases of Trump Vodka to the Russian markets beginning in the January 2008.
Trump’s Russia connections are not limited to deals inside Russia, but largely with individuals connected to the Russian Mafia (also known as the “Eurasian Mafia” since many mafioso are from former soviet block states other than Russia itself), and with individuals directly connected to the Russian government and the apparatus that feeds Putin’s financial empire.
In the early 2000s Bayrock Group partnered with Trump to build his Trump SOHO tower in New York City, and to build the Trump international Hotel and Tower in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. During the period of the SOHO development Bayrock made its headquarters at Trump Tower on the 51st floor. Bayrock was founded by Kazakh billionaire and mafioso Tevfik Arif who was charged with smuggling underage girls from Russia and Ukraine for the purposes of prostitution. Number two at Bayrock was Russian mobster Felix Sater, who is was convicted of a mafia-related stock scheme in 1998 which generated $40 million (Sater avoided prison by working on issues of national security in Asia for the CIA), and in 1991 for stabbing a commodities broker in the neck and face with the broken stem of a margarita glass while at the El Rio Grande restaurant in Midtown Manhatten (the victim suffered a broken jaw and permanent nerve damage). Sater spent a year in prison for the assault. Sater was also named as an “unindited co-conspirator” in a federal securities fraud case in 2000.
Felix Sater was at one time working for Donald Trump and even sported business cards from Trump which read “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump” and had office space in the Trump headquarters. Later, while committing perjury under oath, Trump stated that he had no recollection of Sater despite sharing a stage at the 2007 SOHO grand opening. Sater donated over $5,000 to the Trump campaign in 2016. Sater also testified under oath that he would pitch projects “one on one” with Trump and has documentation to him from Trump establishing their business and personal relationship. Trump is definitely guilty of the crime of perjury.
In 2006 Sater took Ivanka and Donald Jr. on a tour of Moscow as a favor to their father.
One of the other investors in Trump’s SOHO project was billionaire Georgian immigrant Tamir Sapir who lived in a $5 million condo in Trump Tower. Sapir, whose net worth was pegged at over $2 billion in 2006, claimed that his company only had $4,000 by 2009. Sapir’s lawyers claimed that Sapir was so out of it mentally for over a decade that all he could do was sign his name. This means that Sapir was supposedly not mentally functional when he signed the deal with Trump in 2005 for the SOHO tower. The executive vice president of Sapir’s company, Fred Contini, was convicted of racketeering and conspiracy with the Gambino crime family.
Sapir was who introduced Trump to Bayrock, and was named in a lawsuit along with Trump, Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric, and Tevfik Arif by the customers of the SOHO tower who were mislead when given information on the development. Sapir passed away in 2014.
One of the troubling things to come out of the Bayrock/Trump partnership is how the money was distributed to Trump. Bayrock initially directly invested in the project, but then later convinced the Icelandic bank, the FL Group, to do a weird swap and later changed the status of their investment post-fact into a “loan”. This allowed Bayrock and FL Group to avoid $20 million in taxes on their initial investment and avoid $80 million in future taxes on profits from the development. Where the money for this investment-turned-loan originated from is even more sketchy.
The FL Group had its own Russian problems. Those familiar with the Great Recession will recall that Iceland had managed to privatize it’s state-owned banks and then promptly “went nuts.” These banks had large Russian ownership and were largely a mechanism to launder ill-gotten Russian money into the open market. Russian banks right up to the economic collapse in 2008 had started making obscene loans to Russian oligarchs. Alex Shnaider, Trump’s business partner in Toronto for example, received a $50+ million loan from FL Group for a boat (more on Shnaider below).
Dirty money being laundered out of Kazakhstan has been finding its way into Trump’s developments. Particularly the ones backed by Bayrock. One of the initial investors in Trump SOHO also included the Eurasia Group headed by Alexander Machkevich. The Eurasia Group obtained their capital from three Kazakh/Uzbek oligarchs known as “The Trio”: Machkevich, Patokh Chodiev, and Alijan Ibragimov who are all involved in organized crime. Shortly after the fall of communism The Trio formed a partnership known as the Chodiev Group with Russian mob boss Michael Cherney.
In 2006 a young man by the name of Sergey Millian (sometimes written “Sergei”) came to head the Russian American Chamber of Commerce. In an interview done in April of 2016 Mr. Millian claims to have met Trump and invited him via mutual acquaintances at the 2007 “Millionaire Fair” in Russia. In 2007 the fair was held at the Crocus Expo owned by Aras Agalarov who you might remember from Part I in this series as being Trump’s introduction to Vladimir Putin during the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013. Trump invited Millian to the Gulf Stream horse races in Miami and later introduced Millian to his lawyer Michael “I have never been to Russia” Cohen. It was Cohen who granted Millian the exclusive rights to market Trump Organization properties in Russia. In Millian’s own words, his business with the Trump organization was to facilitate tens of millions dollars in condo purchases of Trump real estate from Russian buyers.
Millian was asked in the same interview mentioned above when he last had business with Trump or his associates Millian responded, “Last time it was a few days ago,” (translated from Russian). This means Trump was dealing with Russian business interests during his campaign for president as admitted by the representative for Russian business interests in America! Millian suggested that Trump would make an excellent president as he would remove sanctions and agree on Russia’s involvement in both Syria and Ukraine. Months later Trump did exactly this four days after Christopher Steele reported that Trump was about to recognize Putin’s annexation of Crimea.
Millian later told ABC News that Trump benefited from hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian interests, while Trump would continue to make the claim that he has no investments in Russia. Investments in Russia mean little when huge sums are flowing out of Russia and into Trump’s accounts.
Here is the thing about the Russian American Chamber of Commerce: it is a spy network. Period. The Financial Times reports that the benefactors to the RACC are front companies and have phones that either don’t work or are never answered. When trying to follow up on physical address the Financial Times discovered that they simply didn’t exist. Konstantin Borovoi, a former Russian member of parliament and who was the first president of Russia’s commodities exchange, stated that the original Russian chamber of commerce during the Soviet era was nothing more than a spy network to compromise Americans. “These institutions have been revived and developed. The chamber of commerce institutions are the visible part of the agent network… Russia has spent huge amounts of money on this.”
The FBI even brought in 50 American businessmen who went on a 2011 trip to Moscow organized by Millian via the RACC and questioned whether Russian agents tried to recruit them.
Which brings us to Alex Shnaider, the Russo-Canadian billionaire and Trump’s partner in Toronto on the now bankrupt Trump Tower there. Shnaider has close ties with Putin and Trump. Shnaider owes much of his wealth to that of his father in-law, Russo-Canadian, Boris J. Birshtein. Birshtein’s organization, Seabeco, is found in tax havens all over the world and has its finger in everything you could imagine. According to the FBI Birshtein was tied into the Russian mob via Sergei Mikhaylov the head of the Solntsevskaya Bratva; the largest branch of the Russian mafia. Forbes named Solntsevkaya Bratva the highest grossing organized crime outfit in the world. A 1996 FBI report asserts that Birshtein held a meeting in his Tel Aviv offices with Mikhaylov, Ukrainian crime boss Semion Mogilevich, and others to decide how to split up the Ukraine.
After these meetings Birshtein and his associates managed to take control of most of Ukraine’s markets and government officials including President Leonid Kuchma utilizing some $5 million in payoffs. In the early 1990s Birshtein and Mikhaylov controlled a Belgian company called MAB International; investigators found millions of dollars in transfers between Mikhaylov, Birshtein, and Alexander Volkov, Seabeco’s head in Ukraine.
in 1993 Yeltsin accused Birshtein of stealing seven million tons of oil and laundering the proceeds. It was during this time that two of Kazakhstans “Trio” were involved with Seabeco and actually met while working for Birshtein.
Trump’s business partner Alex Shnaider started working for Birshtein in Seabeco’s offices in Zurich in 1991 and became the head of “Seabeco Metals AG” in 1993-94. Schnaider left Seabeco for Antwerp to run a trading company in January 1994… The same month, year, and location that Birshtein and Mikhaylov happen to have founded MAB International. Shnaider is in deep with Russian mafia connections. He managed the trading for steel mills in Ukraine and was often visiting his favorite one, the Zaporizhstal steel mill. It was here he met Eduard Shifrin and together they formed Midland Resource Holdings Ltd and bought Zaporizhstal for a paltry $70 million and shortly afterward turned down a $1.2 billion deal for its sale. Midland generates $4 billion annually. Schnaider also owns Talon International Development, which was the contractor who built the now bankrupt Toronto Trump Tower.
Trump has also received considerable investments and loans from the Blackstone Group; how much? That is hard to establish unless Trump releases his tax records. Trump named Blackstone founder Steve Schwarzman to chair the Strategic and Policy Forum. Schwarzman was on the advisory board for the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) established by Russian prime minister Dmitri Medvedev in 2011 to spur foreign investment into companies that were not related to the Russian government. Blackstone is under scrutiny for loaning $1.75 billion Sibur, a company that is owned and run by Vladimir Putin’s daughter and her husband, via the RDIF. We should all take note that the business titan who advises Trump weekly is making illegal billion dollar deals with the Russian president’s family.
Trump’s choice of Rex Tillerson, the CEO of oil goliath Exxon, for Secretary of State has raised many an eyebrow. As we all know by now, Tillerson was awarded the “Order of Friendship” medal by Vladimir Putin in 2013. This was after Exxon inked a deal with Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, to utilize its proprietary oil recovery methods to drill for oil on millions of acres of the Russian countryside and in Russia’s Arctic seas. This deal would have put over $1.8 trillion of oil into the global marketplace. Since sanctions have taken place, both Exxon and Russia have not been able to realize any gains from this deal.
Tillerson is literally a friend of Putin’s. He has the medal to prove it. The choice of Tillerson for Secretary of State when he personally has hundreds of millions of dollars on the line for the removal of sanctions is curious even to the least cynical observer. As we detailed in Part I, Steele alleges that Trump-aid Carter Page was promised as much as 19% ownership in Rosneft to him, Trump, and their associates should they manage to remove the economic sanctions in place since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Everyone in the Trump team seems to benefit if the United States repeals economic sanctions against Russia.
We have to now come back to Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who we discussed in Part I as the former political consultant for the disgraced former Ukrainian president, and Putin stooge, Viktor Yanukovych. This is not how Manafort got his start in with former Soviet bloc nations, though. As a lobbyist Manafort’s biggest client was pro-Russian Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash. Firtash has a strong business relationship with Ukrainian mobster Semion Mogilevich (mentioned above as an associate of Boris Birshtein). In 2008 Manafort teamed up with former Trump Organization manager to purchase New York’s famed Drake Hotel for $850 million. Firtash provided $112 million of the seed.
The purpose of the hotel buy was not to make a wise investment. Instead, it was to launder skimmed proceeds Firtash had accrued from Ukraine’s natural gas negotiations with Russia via his silent partner Mogilevich. Ultimately Firtash pulled out of the hotel deal for reasons unknown. Firtash currently faces extradition from Austria to the USA and Spain for bribery and money laundering in a vast network that spreads though the Americas, the UK and Europe. Austria is holding him on an unheard of €125 million bail!
Trump Tower has been home to many a scoundrel, among them tax-dodgers, bribers, arms dealers, convicted cocaine traffickers, and corrupt former FIFA officials. Standing tall above these gems was Russian mobster Anatoly Golubchik who in 2014 was convicted of running an illegal gambling operation out of Trump Tower. Even more shocking was Tower resident Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, Golubchik’s partner, who was listed in 2008 on Forbes World’s Ten Most Wanted Criminals, and who the FBI says is tied to Mogilevich’s crime organization. Tokhtakhounov, in the midst of this illegal gambling operation in Trump Tower, travelled to Moscow to attend Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe contest as a special VIP!
At one point, a man by the name of David Bogatin owned five separate condos in Trump Tower that Donald Trump had reportedly sold to him personally. Who is David Bogatin? He served in the Soviet Army in a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft unit, helping to shoot down American pilots like, say, Senator John McCain. He is also the brother of Jacob Bogatin who in 1993, along with Simeon Mogilevich, was indited by the US government on 45 counts for $150 million in stock fraud. Jacob has a string of mob-related convictions including financial fraud and tax evasion. It is believed that much of his ill gotten gains were laundered through Trump Tower condos via his brother.
The evidence is overwhelming that president-elect Donald Trump has made hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars from Russian mobsters. He is most certainly compromised financially and that alone is grounds for treason. It is the opinion of the Institute for Science and Policy that Donald J. Trump not become president of the United States. This will most definitely end poorly, and dangerously for all Americans.