Forbes: Senate Report Links Trump’s Business Partners To Russian Mob, Putin
An exhaustive report published by Forbes on Thursday details the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings on President Trump’s business partners for his projects in Russia, which includes “individuals with alleged connections to the mob, to Vladimir Putin and to human trafficking.”
- “The group would comprise an extraordinary list of associates for any international businessman, let alone for the sitting president of the United States,” Forbes wrote.
- Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten insisted in 2016 “that the business conducts thorough due diligence on its outside partners,” telling Forbes at the time: “We do extensive vetting on everyone we do business with. We do background checks on an international level. We do background checks on a local level. We check every available database commonly used. We use outside experts who specialize in this area. And that’s in addition to looking at the deal itself. So extensive vetting goes on.”
- However, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia report, released on Tuesday, appears to tell a different story.
- Forbes highlighted seven individuals connected to Trump: Felix Sater, Tevfik Arif, Emin and Aras Agalarov, Irakli Kaveladze, Giorgi Rtskhiladze, and Andrey Rozov.
- Sater was “a managing director at a firm called Bayrock Group, which worked with the eventual president on potential projects in New York, Florida and Arizona.”
- In 1998, he “pleaded guilty to racketeering as part of a Mafia-tied pump-and-dump stock scheme” but kept himself out of prison “by cooperating and sharing intelligence with the feds for more than a decade on subjects including the mob, North Korea and Osama bin Laden.”
- According to the Senate report:
“Sater began using his existing network, largely in Russia, to establish a network of contacts including intelligence officers, military operatives and personnel at military research facilities in various countries. Sater explained that he was in contact with ‘mostly GRU [Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate] guys.’”
- Additionally, Sater “eventually had a Trump Organization business card and an agreement that he would receive a portion of proceeds from certain deals,” Forbes reported, about which the Senate report stated:
“This arrangement, and Sater’s office space on the 26th floor of Trump Tower only several offices away from Trump, gave Sater greater access to Trump, allowing Sater the ability to see Trump frequently and ‘pitch’ business opportunities to him. During this time, Trump would see Sater every day, generally more than once. In general, Sater recalled that he had interacted with Trump ‘hundreds’ of times over the course of their relationship.”
- When The New York Times published a report on Sater’s history in 2007, Trump tried to distance himself, saying at the time: “We do as much of a background check as we can on the principals. I didn’t really know him very well.”
- Days after The New York Times story was published, Trump said during a deposition that he primarily worked “with a man who he identified as the owner of Bayrock, Tevfik Arif.”
- Trump said “that Arif had been working with him on new business opportunities in Turkey, Poland, Ukraine and, of course, Russia,” Forbes reported.
“Mr. Arif had the contacts,” Trump said. “He’s very international, as I’m sure you’ll see if you interview him. And he had international connections.”
- However, Arif “came with his own baggage,” the publication noted.
In Tuesday’s report, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence laid out a slew of accusations against Arif: “Information obtained by the committee suggests he was involved in Russian organized crime, money laundering and human trafficking dating back to at least 2000.”
- The Senate report also stated: “Sater, Arif’s longtime business partner, suggested to the committee that he believed Arif engaged in human trafficking in the United States and elsewhere. According to Sater, Arif brought ‘thousands’ of women into the United States, primarily from Ukraine.”
- Trump said in the 2007 deposition he regretted that his plans with Arif had fallen apart.
“When I saw him once,” Trump recalled in the 2007 deposition, “I said, ‘It’s too bad we didn’t do those deals.’ He said, ‘It’s too bad.’ Because if you know anything about Moscow and the different places, the market has been through the roof, more than the United States. So I told him, I said, ‘It’s too bad we didn’t do those deals. They would have been very good deals.’ ”
Trump made it especially clear that he wanted to invest in Russia. “Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment,” he said, adding, “We will be in Moscow at some point.”
Emin and Aras Agalarov
Forbes also discusses in detail Trump’s ties to “Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov and his pop-singer son, Emin, who “hosted the Miss Universe contest at Crocus City Hall, a property they control on the outskirts of the city.” Trump later pursued a real estate deal with the Agalarovs, but it fell through.
- Per the Senate report: “The Agalarovs have significant ties to Russian organized crime and have been closely affiliated with individuals involved in murder, prostitution, weapons trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, narcotics trafficking, money laundering and other significant criminal enterprises. Some of those activities have extended outside of Russia, including to the United States.”
- The report also stated that Aras Agalarov “has significant ties to the Russian government, including to individuals involved in influence operations targeting the 2016 U.S. election. He has access to President Putin and to Putin’s close aide Dimitry Peskov.”