Data compiled by American Bridge 21st Century reveals that numerous Russians have purchased Trump-branded properties with cash, raising the specter of money laundering schemes involving President Donald Trump’s businesses.
Buyers connected to Russia or former Soviet republics made 86 all-cash sales — totaling nearly $109 million — at 10 Trump-branded properties in South Florida and New York City, according to a new analysis shared with McClatchy. Many of them made purchases using shell companies designed to obscure their identities.
“The size and scope of these cash purchases are deeply troubling as they can often signal money laundering activity," said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a former federal prosecutor. "There have long been credible allegations of money laundering by the Trump Organization which, if true, would pose a real threat to the United States in the event that Russia were able to leverage evidence of illicit financial transactions against the president."
McClatchy notes that the vast majority of cash payments for real estate are on the up and up, but certain flags suggesting illegal activity are present in numerous transactions involving Trump properties and Russian buyers.
Also noteworthy are the questionable backgrounds of several Russians or former Soviet republic nationals who bought properties from Trump, as detailed here by McClatchy:
- Anatoly Golubchik was found guilty in 2013 of operating a sports betting ring for a Russian-American organized crime group, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. He purchased a unit in Trump Tower I for $830,000 in 2010, according to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser.
- Peter Kiritchenko, a Ukrainian businessman who prosecutors accused of laundering tens of millions of dollars alongside that country's former prime minister Pavel Lazarenko. He pleaded guilty to one count of receipt of stolen property and testified against Lazarenko, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office's for the North District of California. Kiritchenko's daughter, Lidia, paid $1.25 million for a unit in Trump Tower II in 2013, acording to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser.
- The Sivokozov family, which has ties to organized crime, according to various Russian media reports. Patriarch Vasily Sivokozov was director of a Russian bank whose license was revoked, according to the reports. His son, Igor, went into business with a Russian-American criminal who had been convicted of fraud. Igor Sivokozov and his daughter, Natalia, paid $660,000 for a unit in Trump Royale in 2015 though the assessed market value was $483,223. Natalia Sivokozova bought two units at Trump Royale, one in 2015 for $675,000 — which had an assessed market value of $534,630 — and another for $1.3 million — which had an assessed market value of $923,803 — in 2016. Her sister, Ksenia Sivokozova, paid $675,000 for a fourth unit in 2015, though it had a market value of $474,474.
- Burman, who does not have a medical license, opened six clinics in Brooklyn as part of a scheme to defraud Medicare and New York State Medicaid programs of more than $26 million between 2007 and 2013, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. It was during that time in 2009 that he paid $725,000 for a unit at Trump Tower I in Sunny Isles Beach, according to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser. Burman, who was born in Kiev and came to the U.S. in 1992 , pleaded guilty and, in May 2017, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
- Zeldovich, who according to social media is likely from Minsk, Belarus, had a company accused of violating anti-monopoly laws and may have continued to do business in Crimea, despite U.S. prohibitions about doing business there after Russia annexed it from Ukraine, according to Russian news reports. Zeldovich and his wife, Erna, purchased two Trump Place units in 2007, one for $790,000 and another for $995,000, according to the New York City Department of Finance. They spent $750,000 for a Trump Royale unit in 2008, making them one of the first buyers, according to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser. Zeldovich Living Trust, which lists Zeldovich as a representative , spent $1.85 million on a unit at Trump Place in 2010, according to the New York City Department of Finance.
- Romashov served as chairman of the board of Transoil when it was on the Treasury Department’s sanctions list in March 2014. Transoil was founded by Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko, who has close ties to Putin and is under U.S. sanctions. Romashov paid $620,000 cash for a unit in Trump Tower I in Sunny Isles Beach in 2010, according to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser.