Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” – Donald Trump Jr. 2008
In Part 1, we delved into Trump’s deep ties with Russian billionaires and the mafia in his real estate dealings. In Part 2, we’ll map similar connections to Trump’s casino failures, investigating why Russian money was poured into the arguably poor investments that were Trump Casinos, why that might be, and how it ties back to the real estate dealings.
Donald Trump’s high-publicity casino failures are well known. The next time you hear Trump say his casinos failed due to a “bad economy”, you should take a look at this chart:
Most Trump critics will quickly laugh off the “successful businessman” and his history of incompetence, but what if there is a reason each of Trump’s business ventures famously failed? Like.. Russian money laundering?
In 2015, the US Treasury fined Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino Resort a record $10 million for “significant, long standing anti-money laundering violations”.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today imposed a $10 million civil money penalty against Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort (Trump Taj Mahal), for willful and repeated violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA
“Trump Taj Mahal received many warnings about its deficiencies,” said FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery. “Like all casinos in this country, Trump Taj Mahal has a duty to help protect our financial system from being exploited by criminals, terrorists, and other bad actors. Far from meeting these expectations, poor compliance practices, over many years, left the casino and our financial system unacceptably exposed.”
Now, we already know that Trump has a history of hiring and dealing with known mafiosos, most publicly Danny Leung, a member of the Chinese Triad, who was convicted of racketeering and murder in 1994, and was Trump’s Vice President for Foreign Marketing from 1990 to 1993. The Russian connection here is that after each one of Trump’s fines or bankruptcies, he was subsequently kept afloat by Bayrock and other Russian benefactors. Why?
The Tower Deals
It ties back to the real estate dealings. Simeon Mogilavech is one of the most well-known Russian crime bosses, known to many law enforcement entities as the “boss of bosses” in most Russian crime syndicates internationally. At one time, he was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. One of the key members in the Mogilavech crime family is one David Bogatin, who has his own laundry list of tax-evasion, money laundering, and racketeering convictions. Bogatin reportedly owned five condos in Trump Tower that Trump sold to him personally.
And remember Felix Sater? His father, Mikhael Sheferovsky, worked for Mogilevich too. And remember Alex Shnaider, who funded Trump’s Toronto Tower failure? His father in law worked for Sergei Mikhaylov, who headed the Solntsevskaya Bratva, Russia’s largest crime syndicate. The gang was at one point linked to Simeon Mogilevich as well.
At this point, we only know that Trump’s Taj Mahal was hit with a $10 million fine for money laundering. We do not know the details of who was doing the laundering, the extent of Trump’s knowledge of said laundering, or if the Russian mob was involved. However, it is curious at best that Trump is inundated in a web of high profile Russian gangsters with whom he has deep personal relationships.
The Mob Ties to Putin
Do you remember ex-KGB spy Alexander Litivenko? In 2006, he was poisoned with polonium dropped in his tea and died. The ordeal was a high-profile and highly publicized assassination by the Russian government. Why was he targeted?
Litivenko, after the fall of the Soviet Union, was an agent within the FSB, specializing in organized crime. He is responsible for coining the term and describing Russia as a “Mafia State”. In November 1998, Litvinenko and several other FSB officers publicly accused their superiors of ordering the assassination of the Russian tycoon and oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Litvinenko was arrested the following March on charges of exceeding the authority of his position. He was acquitted in November 1999 but re-arrested before the charges were again dismissed in 2000.
At this point, he and his family eventually settled (fled) to the UK, where he was granted asylum. During his time in London, Litvinenko wrote two books, Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within and Lubyanka Criminal Group, wherein he accused the Russian secret services of staging the Russian apartment bombingsand other terrorism acts in an effort to bring Vladimir Putinto power. He also accused Putin of ordering the murder in October 2006 of the Russian journalist .
In 2005, one year before his poisoning, he recorded a tape claiming that Mogilavech and Putin were close friends, and maintained a close relationship.
Mogilevich has also been described by Leonid Derkach, the former head of the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, as a close friend of Vladimir Putin’s during a conversation with former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma. He is recorded as saying, “He’s on good terms with Putin. He and Putin have been in contact since Putin was still in Leningrad.” [where Putin was a child]
To tie this back to previous write-ups, a second key to the puzzle lies with Russian oil and gas interests, notably the the alleged relationship between Dmytro Firtash and Mogilevich in Eural Trans Gas and RosUkrEnergo, companies involved in the strategically important transit of natural gas from Central Asia to Ukraine. Firtash is the 50% owner of RosUkrEnergo. The other half is owned by Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas company apparently controlled by Putin. From private investigation and consulting firm IPSA International:
Since the days of the Soviet Unions, a well-known tool in the toolbox of Russia’s intelligence tradecraft. Utilizing organized crime elements provides a means of plausible deniability in its more shady dealings. Putin ties to Mogilevich. Mogilevich ties to Sater, Bogatin, and Shnaider. That trio ties to Trump. Trump’s complex web of high-profile Russian mob contacts is a veritable “who’s who” of Russian crime figures that ultimately culminate in a chain of command with Putin at its head, without even mentioning Trump’s dealings with Putin himself. Considering these dealings track way back to the mid-90s, every American should be concerned that the Trump Regime may have been cultivated as a Russian asset for decades – years before the Steele dossier, and years before the 2016 Presidential Election.