Two new memos leaked to the private intelligence firm Black Water Security, highlighted by Rogue Media Labs, have raised interesting questions surrounding Donald Trump and suspected links to the Russian mob and money laundering.
The memos, which both originate from Deutsche Bank, surround a $600 million dollar loan that was given to the VTB Group, a leading Russian financial group including VTB Bank and its subsidiaries. The main shareholder of VTB is the Russian Government.
The first memo, an internal document sent to employees instructs staff to ignore future developments regarding the loan, even if there was a suspicion of fraud. A few weeks following the memo, Alfa Bank purchased $300 million dollars of the loan out from underneath Deutsche Bank.
Alfa Bank is the corporate treasury of the Alfa Group, one of the largest private commercial banks in Russia, being particularly active both there and in Ukraine.
Mentioned in the infamous Christopher Steele dossier on Trump, the FBI has investigated unusual computer activity between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization originating in the summer of 2016. In 2017, Donald Trump nominated Brian Benczkowski, the bank’s former attorney, to be United States Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division.
The second memo, which followed Alfa Bank’s $300 million dollar purchase of half the VTB Group loan, advises all Deutsche Bank affiliates not to do business again with VTB Group and highlights the role of Felix Sater in negotiating the loan, the same Felix Sater who took part in negotiations about a proposed Trump Tower Moscow.
A man by the name of Felix Sater additionally was present with a group of VTB representatives that initially negotiated the loan in question. Mr. Sater is under heavy scrutiny in the public eye for potential money laundering and is an unindicted co-conspirator in a case of several American stockbrokers laundering money to members of the Russian mafia and other organized crime groups. Mr. Water [sic] additionally took part in negotiations about a proposed “Trump Tower Moscow” with members of President-Elect Donald Trump’s inner circleDeutsche Bank Anti-Financial Crime Complaint, December 18, 2016
It was in 2005 that the Trump Organization signed a contract for a construction project in Moscow with the Bayrock Group real estate firm, a firm who included Felix Salter as one of the firm’s principals. In 1998, Sater had been convicted of fraud in connection to a $40 million penny stock “pump and dump” scheme conducted by the Russian Mafia, he has been called “a career criminal”.
Despite initial proposals falling through, Trump was still interested in the project and signed a letter of intent in October 2015, having declared his candidacy for President of that same year. Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen alleges that interest in the Moscow project continued throughout the primary campaign and only ended in June 2016. Salter was still heavily involved with the project, stating that he had arranged financing for the proposed Moscow Trump Tower deal with VTB Bank. Sater was scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee at the end of March but following the release of the Mueller Report, his testimony was delayed for a second time.
Dated November 25th and December 18th 2016, the two memos do not prove that a link between Donald Trump and criminal enterprise, but they certainly raise questions. With Felix Salter under “heavy scrutiny in the public eye for potential money laundering” and given his previous publically known crimes and mafia links, it is interesting that Trump should be consorting with such a man, particularly after he had already announced his candidacy to be President of the United States.