By Steven Rosenfeld
President Trump’s Manhattan properties and business partners, including former Soviet Union-connected oligarchs, were involved in a larger international money-laundering scheme involving upward of $1 billion, according to Dutch filmmakers whose third installment in an investigative series aired on public TV in Holland Wednesday.
“We wanted to know in depth how money was transferred from Kazakhstan to the United States and how this could relate to Donald Trump, the Trump Organization and Trump’s real estate,” said Sander Rietveld, director of The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump, Part III: The Multibillion-Dollar Fraud, broadcast on Zembla, a program of the VARA Broadcasting Association.
The documentary was produced based on a three-month collaborationbetween Zembla, The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)—known for the Panama Papers, and McClatchy newspaper’s Washington bureau (including Kevin Hall, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the Panama papers).
One of the international financiers profiled went to court in the Netherlands on Tuesday to stop the documentary from airing on public TV, but lost.
“We investigated hundreds of company records, court documents in the U.S., Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Belize, etc., and interviewed dozens of sources,” he said. “The result is a follow-the-money documentary revealing the connections between several people in Trump’s orbit and an alleged multibillion-dollar fraud. Also the pivotal role of the Netherlands as an offshore haven gets attention. With Dutch help, Kazakh oligarchs allegedly were able to divert and launder huge amounts of money.”
One of the international financiers profiled went to court in the Netherlands on Tuesday to stop the documentary from airing on public TV, but lost, Rietveld said: “Kazakh multimillion[aire] businessman-oligarch Ilyas Khrapunov tried to block this broadcast in court yesterday (Monday). Judge turned down his request and allowed airing documentary.”
The filmmakers found that money taken out of Kazakhstan by energy oligarchs was used to buy some of Trump’s high-end Manhattan apartments and was also used to create the business partnership, called Bayrock, for Trump’s SoHo Tower project, said James Henry, a financial industry investigative reporter and editor at DCReport.org who worked with Rietveld’s team and appears in the documentary.
“The significant thing is they have got the Kazakh government saying that Bayrock was a money launderer for these guys,” Henry told AlterNet. “What is interesting, if [special counsel Robert] Mueller wants to take a look at this, is we have [Trump’s mob-connected business partner] Felix Sater laundering criminal money.” …