Daily Check-In 09/12/2018

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

 

THE RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION

 But secret documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News reveal a previously undisclosed aspect of the meeting: a complex web of financial transactions among some of the planners and participants who moved money from Russia and Switzerland to the British Virgin Islands, Bangkok, and a small office park in New Jersey.

The documents show Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer close to both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, at the center of this vast network and how he used accounts overseas to filter money to himself, his son, and at least two people who attended the Trump Tower meeting. The records also offer new insight into the murky financial world inhabited by many of Trump’s associates, who use shell companies and secret bank accounts to quickly and quietly move money across the globe.

Now, four federal law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed News, investigators are focused on two bursts of transactions that bank examiners deemed suspicious: one a short time after the meeting and another immediately after the November 2016 presidential election.

The first set came just 11 days after the June 9 meeting, when an offshore company controlled by Agalarov wired more than $19.5 million to his account at a bank in New York.

The second flurry began shortly after Trump was elected. The Agalarov family started sending what would amount to $1.2 million from their bank in Russia to an account in New Jersey controlled by the billionaire’s son, pop singer Emin Agalarov, and two of his friends. The account had been virtually dormant since the summer of 2015, according to records reviewed by BuzzFeed News, and bankers found it strange that activity in Emin Agalarov’s checking account surged after Trump’s victory.

After the election, that New Jersey account sent money to a company controlled by Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, a longtime business associate of the Agalarovs and their representative at the Trump Tower meeting. Kaveladze’s company, meanwhile, had long funded a music business set up by the person who first proposed the meeting to the Trump camp, Emin Agalarov’s brash British publicist, Rob Goldstone.

Bankers were suspicious for a number of reasons. For one, Kaveladze was an employee of the Agalarovs’ Crocus Group, their sprawling construction and real estate empire based in Russia. Why, bankers wondered, would the funds start in Russia, briefly make a pit stop in Emin Agalarov’s New Jersey account, and finally be sent to Corsy International? Balber, the attorney for Kaveladze and the Agalarovs, would not address questions about specific transactions, but said they were all legitimate.

Second, bankers noted that Kaveladze — who after the election pushed for an additional get-together with the Trumps and some of the original Tower meeting participants — had previously been investigated for money laundering. According to a Government Accountability Office report published in 2000, Kaveladze established more than 2,000 corporations in Delaware for Russian real estate brokers, then set up bank accounts for them in the US. The brokers used these accounts to launder about $1.4 billion, the report found. Kaveladze was never charged with a crime and he referred to the GAO’s probe as a “witch hunt.”

Finally, bankers focused on the New Jersey address of Corsy International: a small, windowless office in an unremarkable building near the Hudson River. It was suspicious, officials reported, that such large sums flowed through such a nondescript location. When examiners began investigating this address, they discovered at least eight other companies located there, all of them controlled by Kaveladze, Emin Agalarov, or their associates.

The headquarters for these companies is Suite 309. There is no sign on the door. When a reporter visited last month, a man refused to open the door and said he was unable to talk or even accept a business card.

But in July 2017, after the New York Times broke the news of the Trump Tower meeting, there was another flurry of financial activity. This time, it centered around the man who first reached out to the Trump campaign — Rob Goldstone, Emin Agalarov’s publicist.

During his congressional testimony, Goldstone said that Emin Agalarov was his only client. But he said he didn’t know the “chain of command” of who paid him.

The documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News show that most of the funds flowing into Goldstone’s music business, Oui 2 Entertainment, and his personal checking account came from Corsy International, Kaveladze’s company. Between July 2015 and January 2017, Oui 2 received more than half a million dollars from Corsy International. Bank examiners found this suspicious because Corsy was an import-export business, while Oui 2 was involved with music. It didn’t make sense, bankers reported, for these two companies to conduct transactions with one another.

Bankers were also concerned that Goldstone set up the meeting and received money through Kaveladze, who had previously been investigated for money laundering involving Russians.

While they couldn’t explain these transfers, bankers flagged additional suspicious behavior in Goldstone’s account shortly after the Trump Tower meeting came to light.

By July 24, 2017, about two weeks after the New York Times broke the story about the meeting, Goldstone had left for Bangkok. He told congressional investigators that he wanted to take time off, equating it to a college student’s “gap year,” so he could write a book. But bank officials questioned his financial behavior there, particularly a series of 37 ATM withdrawals totaling about $8,400. The last of those withdrawals was made in November 2017. His business partner, David Tominello, appears to have traveled to Bangkok as well, making 51 withdrawals during the same period for about $7,600. Bankers noted that the withdrawals came shortly after news broke about Goldstone’s role in the Trump Tower meeting.

On Aug. 31, 2017, while they were still overseas, Goldstone and Tominello tapped into a home equity line of credit to withdraw money. The two received the loan on an apartment in New Jersey and used the funds to transfer about $32,000 to Oui 2. Examiners said the two men were essentially using a loan to make “payroll,” which bankers thought was unusual, especially when they had such a lucrative source of income through Kaveladze’s company. They also found it “concerning” that the home equity line of credit funded ATM cash withdrawals in Bangkok.

Four Federal Law Enforcement Officials? Assuming that it’s not 4 people on a team all talking to the reporter at once, this is huge. BFN got 4 people to go on the record for this, and they have enough detailed information to trace the cash flow.

The money flow itself is incriminating enough, but combined with the dates, then Team Trump is screwed. June 20th is right after the Trump Tower meeting, the day that Manafort was named the Campaign Chairman, and before any changes were made to the Republican Party platform regarding Ukraine. The second time, November 21st, is right after the election, and right when Michael Cohen started accepting bribes for Trump. Manafort was closing on his fraudulent loan around this time, too.

So, the guy that worked with Trump to host Miss Universe in Moscow and get on Putin’s good side made a lot of suspicious, large payments right around the time of the meeting, and they expect us to believe this is all coincidental?

 

WOODWARD AND THE ANONYMOUS OP-ED

 

TRUMP THE RUSSIAN ASSET

 

TRAITOR TOTS

 

FIGHTING BACK

 

IMMIGRATION

 

COLD WAR 2.0

 

#NEVERAGAIN

 

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

 

POLLS

 

SCOTUS

Q&A

Collins

 

WHITE HOUSE CHAOS

 

STUDENT LOANS

 

TRADE WAR AND ECONOMY

 

GOP: THE PARTY OF LINCOLN IS DEAD

 

DRUGS

 

PRIESTS

 

#METOO

 

HURRICANES

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

ELECTION 2018

 

IN OTHER NEWS…

 

RUMOR MILL

I recommend checking this thread out.  She links to a few of the threads I talked about yesterday (Daily Check-In 09/11/2018), as well as some new ones.  She talks about how to explain the Weaponized Craziness to others.  It’s important that we do going forward.  This shit is too crazy for most people.

 

That’s it for Wednesday.  It’s a little lighter than normal, things are little nuts in the real world today.  I hope to get back to a slight level of normalcy for Thursday and Friday.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.

 

“Without Journalists, it’s just propaganda.”

– Katy Tur

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