Trump’s Palm Beach Problem

It’s the money laundering that will do him in (boldface mine):

In 2004, President Trump paid $41.35 million for a Palm Beach, Florida, mansion formerly owned by Abe Gosman, a health-care executive. Dubbed “Maison de L’Amitie,” the property at 515 N. County Road was classic Trump — huge, flashy, and resplendent in the “late Baroque brothel” style he favors. It is unclear how much time Trump or his family spent living in the property, being only one of many under his control at the time.

Barely four years later and without having made improvements, Trump sold the property to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. The sale to Rybolovlev, who made billions in an unglamorous industry by cornering the Asian market in potash (a fertilizer) with his company Uralkali, raised eyebrows for two reasons. First, the purchase price of $95 million was not only by far the most ever paid for a home in swanky Palm Beach, but also more than twice what Trump paid four years earlier. More curiously, Rybolovlev has never seen or visited the property — not before he agreed to pay that staggering price, nor since the sale was completed.

A Rybolovlev subsidiary called County Road Property LLC purchased the property and transferred it to a trust. In high-profile divorce proceedings with his wife over the next several years, Rybolovlev’s explanation for the outsized purchase price and his intentions for the property changed frequently. When his divorce was finally settled in 2015, the home was demolished and divided into three lots.

But maybe Rybolovlev is just another Trump mark? Well:

Fast forward to 2016. Journalists found at least three instances in which Trump’s campaign aircraft and Rybolovlev’s private Airbus 319 landed in the same city within an hour of one another on the dates of Trump campaign rallies. Trump’s claim that the two men never met despite their mammoth real estate transaction is tenuous, though characteristically the president categorized speculation about connections to Rybolovlev as baseless…

One is that the property was purchased sight-unseen for the outsized sale price so that Rybolovlev could conceal assets for a divorce he believed was impending. This immediately raises the question of why Trump or his company would assist a person he claims he has never met in skirting the law to the tune of $95 million.

The other, more troublingly, is that the purchase price represents Russian interests seeking legitimate cover for making payments to Trump. There is no concrete proof of this. But in recent years, two members of CongressRandy “Duke” Cunningham and Aaron Schockhave been indicted (and in Cunningham’s case, incarcerated) for using the sale of a home at a wildly inflated price as cover for the payment of bribes by private interests. Purchasing property over its market value to conceal a transfer of funds is a common technique familiar to investigators of white-collar crime.

It might be like getting Capone for tax fraud, but it will be something like this that brings Trump down.

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2 Responses to Trump’s Palm Beach Problem

  1. Reblogged this on Wide Awake But Dreaming and commented:
    We come for your money laundering, Chuck…

  2. The nations newest republican governor did a deal that makes Trump look like a piker. In 2009 he sold “…most of his holdings in metallurgical coal to a Russian company called Mechel for $568 million in cash and stock”, then “…Almost immediately after his deal with Mechel, the bottom fell out of the met coal market” and “…six years after selling, he paid $5 million, or 1 percent of the earlier price, for the same properties”. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-01-10/can-west-virginia-s-new-governor-save-coal-country [paywall, but you get to read some free each month]

    Oh, and he apparently owes millions in unpaid taxes on the deal. https://democraticgovernors.org/news/dga-statement-on-jim-justice-announcement/
    This guy was either astute, prescient, lucky, or in on a scam.

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