The Senate just grilled Trump’s Russian mafia-linked partner for seven hours

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President Trump’s Russian-mafia linked business partner just testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee which has received dozens of suspicious activity reports (SAR) about their failed lower Manhattan hotel project. Even a single SAR from a bank can uncover a major international money laundering crime.

Former Trump Organization senior advisor Felix Sater was the principal behind Bayrock, a company accused of laundering money for Russian President Vladimir Putin, that built the Trump SoHo Hotel-condominium. He recently settled an eight-year-old racketeering fraud lawsuit over the doomed development, which removed the Trump name and management team just last December.

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Today, Sater testified to the Senate Intel Committee, which knows of at least 25 suspicious activity reports, about his deal with Trump which banks say could be considered money laundering transactions. Buzzfeed reports:

It’s unclear whether FinCEN has turned over any documents related to Sater, but it has identified 25 suspicious activity reports associated with his financial transactions and more than a dozen associated with Bayrock, sources say.

The committee recently asked the Treasury Department for financial information on Sater and his real estate firm, Bayrock Group LLC, which did deals with the Trump Organization in the early 2000s. In a letter to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network dated Dec. 7, the committee asked for any potential suspicious activity reports and other bank documents on Sater, Bayrock, and other people and businesses. Banks must report to the Treasury transactions that have the characteristics of money laundering or other financial wrongdoing, but the reports themselves are not evidence of a crime — many of the transactions are legal.

Buzzfeed has taken an inside track to reporting Felix Sater’s purported exploits, but only has a single on the record source from the FBI to back up his tall tales, and none from the CIA. The value of the information that he provided to the FBI or purportedly the CIA, which warranted the extreme level of special treatment he acquired, is unknown, though we do know that he did lie about receiving no money for his eleven-year stint as a cooperating witness.

Nobody knows exactly what the Senate panel asked Sater in the closed-door session, but one would imagine that either his emails to Trump attorney Michael Cohen claiming to “get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” as well as his secret, back-channel peace plan for Ukraine, would be major topics of concern from Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA).

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Just last month, Sater admitted on MSNBC that he and Trump were hoping to obtain financing from the sanctioned, state-owned bank VTB to complete their proposed Moscow City Tower with a shady company owned by a lawyer from the island Cyprus, a notorious offshore Russian money laundering haven.

Whatever the Senate asked of Sater, they ultimately spent seven hours questioning the Soviet-born former Trump Organization senior advisor, whose secretive felony record was just further unsealed by a New York court and whose multi-million dollar deals in Manhattan reeked of fraud.

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Grant Stern

Editor at Large

Grant Stern is a columnist for the Washington Press. He's also mortgage broker, writer, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida.

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