Special counsel Robert Mueller may have finished his investigation into whether President Donald Trump colluded with Russia, but a number of other probes into alleged wrongdoing by the president and his inner circle continue. Now, the president’s former business partner Felix Sater is accused in federal court of trying to launder billions of dollars of stolen money through Trump Tower Moscow. Sater also allegedly laundered millions through down-payments on condo purchases at the Trump SoHo property.
BTA Bank and the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, filed a lawsuit at a federal court in Manhattan on Monday alleging Sater conspired with Ilyas Khrapunov, a Kazakh businessman, to use $4 billion allegedly stolen years earlier from the bank and city to finance the the Trump Tower Moscow project in 2012. Plans to build the tower were dropped in the final months of the 2016 presidential election, and the building never materialized, but Sater found other ways to launder the money, the lawsuit says.
Sater and Khrapunov invested $3 million in the Trump SoHo development in New York City and other U.S.-based real estate “schemes,” according to the court filing. Khrapunov is accused of using some of the money, allegedly stolen by his father-in-law, to help procure immigration status for his sister.
Sater “turned on his criminal confederates,” says the lawsuit, stealing at least $40 million of the funds for himself and his business associate, Daniel Ridloff.
The lawsuit does not say whether Trump acted unlawfully or knew the funds were stolen when they were used to make a down payment on the condos, but Sater arranged for Trump and Khrapunov to meet in Trump Tower to discuss using the money to fund the Moscow project, according to the lawsuit.
Sater was scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee this week but the hearing was postponed on Monday after Attorney General William Barr on Sunday sent Congress a summary of the findings from Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller concluded that Russia interfered in the election but that the Trump campaign and its associates did not cooperate in that effort. And while the report did not exonerate Trump of the crime of obstructing justice during the investigation, Barr and the Justice Department decided not to file charges against the president.
House Democrats have set an April 2 deadline for Barr to release Mueller’s full report.
Trump has distanced himself from longtime associate Sater in the past, even though Trump’s former attorney and personal fixer Michael Cohen testified before Congress last month that the two used to work on the same floor as each other at Trump Tower. Sater’s business card was branded with the Trump logo and conferred on him the title “senior adviser” to the Trump Organization.
The lawsuit against Sater does not target Trump himself, but is one of several investigations into Trump’s inner circle. Several of his associates, businesses, charity, personal wealth, inaugural committee, and conduct during his campaign and while in office are the subject of federal or congressional investigations.
A number of congressional committees are investigating the president and his associates, including Sater. The House and Senate Intelligence committees are independently investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The House Oversight, Finance, and Ways and Means committees are looking into the president’s business dealings — including his taxes — and contributions and expenditures related to his inaugural committee, the presidential transition, and hush-money payments made to silence women about their alleged affairs with the president ahead of the 2016 election.
As part of its own investigation into Trump’s business and financial practices, the House Judiciary Committee has also requested documents from 81 people and entities, including people within the president’s inner circle and several family members.
New York prosecutors are also looking into whether the Trump’s involvement in hush-money payments — made to women who say they had affairs with Trump, whose stories could have damaged his campaign — could amount to campaign-finance violations. Prosecutors in New York are also looking into how the president’s Inaugural Committee spent and raised over $100 million for the president’s 2017 inauguration festivities.
The New York State Department of Financial Services has also launched its own investigation into whether Trump inflated his net worth to lenders, inflated property values to insurers, and deflated his property values so he could dodge taxes.