White House blasts leak of part of tax return, calls it part of the agenda of 'the dishonest media'
Putin’s Pal Bought Trump’s Palm Beach Mansion
Oligarch and Trump’s commerce secretary have ties to questionable Cyprian bank
BY ABQ FREE PRESS WEEKLY STAFF
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reports that a Russian oligarch with ties to a Cyprian bank reputed to have engaged in Russian money laundering bought Trump’s Palm Beach home for nearly $100 million – about $60 million more than Trump paid for it less than four years earlier.
During a March 14 show in which Maddow revealed she had obtained a portion of Trump’s 2005 tax return, she detailed connections between the oligarch, Trump’s commerce secretary, a former head of Deustche Bank, Putin and the Cyprian bank that has been linked to Russian money laundering.
Maddow cited recent reporting by the Palm Beach Post, Tampa Bay Tribune, the Seattle Times and McClatchy News Service about a Palm Beach real estate deal Trump made in 2008 with Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, reputed to the the 119th richest man in the world.
Rybolovlev is the largest shareholder of the Bank of Cyprus and a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the 2008 deal, Rybolovlev, bought the 62,000-square-foot Palm Beach mansion formerly known as Maison de L’Amitie, or House of Friendship, which was then owned by Trump.
For the future president, the deal went down at a time when Deutsche Bank “was breathing down his neck” to repay loans owed it by The Trump Organization, Maddow said.
A massive profit in a depressed real estate market
That year was also a time when the Palm Beach real estate market, along with the rest of the U.S. real estate market, was depressed because of the housing crash.
But while homeowners and real estate investors across America were taking a bath, Trump was paid by Rybolovlev $95 million, or more than twice the $40 million he paid to buy the mansion less than four years earlier.
The Bank of Cyprus has a reputation as a haven for Russian money laundering and allowing them to convert rubles into dollars in violation of Russian law. It was headed by former Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann, who was selected for to head ther bank by one of the bank’s two vice-chairmen, Trump’s close friend, Wilbur Ross. Deutsche Bank was fined by U.S. authorities for participating in illegal “mirror trades” structured to move money out of Russia.
The other other vice-chairman of the Cyprian bank was appointed by Putin.
On Feb. 27, a day before Ross was sworn in as Trump’s commerce secretary, Senate Democrats accused the White House of blocking their requests that Ross answer questions about his own links and his bank’s links to Russians.
He was confirmed without the Senate ever receiving the requested information.
The Deutsche Bank nexus
The connections between and among Ross, Rybolovlev, Deutsche Bank, the Bank of Cyprus – and ultimately Trump – appear to be relevant to other recent developments.
Deutsche Bank is currently under investigation by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
On March 10, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions requested the resignations of 46 U.S. attorneys. Among them was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.
Bharara made headlines by insisting he did not resign but was fired. Bharara’s departure may hinder ongoing federal probes, including inquiries into Deutsche Bank’s role in the mirror trades, multiple media outlets have reported.