Despite President Trump’s claims during the presidential campaign that he has “nothing to do with Russia” including “no deals,” emails obtained by the Washington Post and the New York Times show that former Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen and former Bayrock Group executive Felix Sater were actively working on a licensing deal with a Moscow-based developer as recently as last year.
In one January 2016 correspondence, Cohen reportedly emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aide, Dymytry Peskov, to ask for his help pushing the project forward.
The Trump Organization had even secured a letter of intent with a developer, IC Expert Investment Co., but had not yet had success obtaining building permits from the Russian government, according to the Washington Post.
In a statement submitted to congressional investigators, Cohen said he could not recall receiving a response from Peskov and claimed the project was abandoned two weeks later, the Washington Post reported.
IC Expert appears best known for building a large-scale suburban real estate development in Reutov, a town just east of Moscow.
According to its website, the firm was founded in 2005 and has since developed millions of square feet of mixed-use property around Moscow. Most notably, the real estate firm developed the “Novokosino” and “Novokosino-2” complexes in Reutov, a more than 4 million-square-foot “micro district” with 17 residential buildings and thousands of apartments.
However, according to Russian news reports from last year, construction at “Novokosino-2” has taken much longer than many expected, drawing protests from apartment buyers, some of whom complained that the company is not employing enough construction workers. Some buyers haven’t been able to move in for over a year, according to the reports.
Nearby, IC Expert also developed Reutov Park, a 1 million-square foot shopping mall. The mall was co-developed with Amma Development, a company reportedly founded by former executives in the Russian division of IKEA.
Other development and banking partners listed on IC Expert’s website include Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender. Sberbank is embroiled in a federal gravel quarry dispute that landed in a New York court earlier this year, and it’s hired Trump’s former personal attorney Marc Kasowitz. At the time he was hired by Sberbank, Kasowitz was also working for Trump on matters related to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
A subsidiary of VTB Bank is another of IC Expert’s listed partners. According to an email obtained by the Times this week, Sater said he had already lined up financing for the Trump Moscow project with VTB as a lender.
Both Sberbank and VTB are majority state-owned and were placed under U.S. sanctions following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region in Ukraine in 2014.
Deutsche Bank Raided over Russian Money Laundering
A money laundering probe stemming from the “Panama Papers” has led police to Deutsche Bank, according to authorities. Prosecutors believe the bank helped clients “transfer money from criminal activities” to tax havens.
German Federal police on Thursday raided the Frankfurt offices of Deutsche Bank. The Frankfurt prosecutor’s office said the raids stemmed from an investigation into suspected money laundering at the German bank.
About 170 law enforcement agents took part in the operation. The investigation revolves around multiple Deutsche Bank employees, including two believed to still be working at the financial institution.
Deutsche Bank said it was “fully cooperating” with authorities. “The case is related to the Panama Papers,” a spokesperson said.
According to prosecutors, Deutsche Bank is suspected of helping some 900 customers setup offshore shell companies in tax havens to “transfer money from criminal activities.” They said some €311 million ($354 million) is believed to have been laundered, citing information gleaned from the so-called “Panama Papers.”
Markus Meinzer, financial secrecy director of the Tax Justice Network, has been quoted “surprised that German officials would finally take action” on information garnered from the “Panama Papers.”
“It has been two years that they’ve been analyzing these files,” Mainzer said. “We have seen in other situations that German prosecutors took very long to take action” against tax avoidance schemes and financial crimes.
The “Panama Papers” data leak comprised some 11.5 million documents and was leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source in 2015. At least 28 German entities were identified in the leak, according to reports at the time, including Deutsche Bank.
Deutsche Bank has come under increased scrutiny for lax anti-money laundering mechanisms. In September, German financial regulator BaFin formally ordered the bank to do more to combat money laundering in its institutions.
BaFin also assigned an audit firm to assist the bank in fulfilling its regulatory requirements, saying Deutsche Bank needs to “take appropriate internal safeguards.”
In the past, Deutsche Bank has acknowledged that its anti-money laundering efforts have fallen short of financial rules. In August, it confirmed that even after it was fined for helping Russian clients wash some $10 billion (€8.8 billion), its mechanisms to stop such criminal activity were still ineff
Trump Threatens Acosta, Again
The White House has announced that despite a Judicial order restoring Acosta’s press pass, they will suspend it immediately after the order expires in 14 days.
According, to Brian Stelter of CNN, “Lawyers were already expected to be back in court this week to discuss the timeline for further proceedings. Unless there’s some sort of resolution, CNN will be arguing for a preliminary injunction. Here’s what CNN outside counsel Ted Boutrous told me on “Reliable Sources” before these new developments were known… “
The White House argues Acosta did not follow “basic standards” at a news conference when he scrapped with U.S. President Donald Trump.
In a court filing Monday, CNN said the administration was creating “retroactive due process.” The network tweeted that the White House “is continuing to violate the First and Fifth amendments of the Constitution.”
The @WhiteHouse is continuing to violate the First and Fifth amendments of the Constitution. These actions threaten all journalists and news organizations. @Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and @realDonaldTrump https://t.co/knr1NpyMVv
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 19, 2018
HORROR IN NYC: Did Saudi Government Assassins Kill Two Sisters?
Two Saudi Sisters Rotana and Tala Farea, whose bodies were found washed up along the Hudson river, may have been victims of Saudi government assassins according to a well placed source within NYPD. They were then killed only a day after they applied for asylum in the United States, scared to return to the oppressive Saudi regime.
Their mother said that the Saudi government had called them on October 23rd and threatened them with being taken back to Saudi Arabia (and most likely punished) because the sisters had applied for asylum in the United States.
The sisters’ bodies then were found the next day, ducted taped, dead washed on the shore of the Hudson River.
There is a Saudi Consulate in NYC at 866 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10017
Police have ruled out that the pair jumped from the George Washington Bridge in a suicide pact, a theory that was initially pushed out by police, because neither body had visible signs of trauma that would have occurred when they hit the water.
Tala was last seen on Aug. 24, according to a now-removed posting on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website. The alert said she might be with her sister.
A cause of death for the two women — both of Fairfax, Virginia — has not yet been determined.
This news comes the same day that we’ve learned that Washington Post Columnist, Jamal Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered in a Saudi Consulate in Turkey.
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