Donald Trump, during his first year as president of the United States, last year sold,real estate worth millions of dollars to buyers who used limited liability companies (LLCs). Data from the sales show many of those investors were Russians or those from other countries.
Millions went to Trump and each of those buyers received large tax breaks under the new tax code Trump signed into law in December 2017.
In the two years before Trump became president, only 4 percent of real estate buyers used the secretive LLCs to make such purchases. Since Trump became president, the percentage of such sales rose to just under 70 percent, reports USA Today.
Trump ignored advice from ethics experts and real estate counselors to divest himself from his companies that pose potential conflicts-of-interest and decided instead to put his holdings into a loosely organized “blind trust” with him as the controlling beneficiary. He also promised to deal only with Americans in sales during his presidency.
While the LLCs list addresses of post office boxes in America, many are owned by residents and billionaires in Russia, Saudi Arabia and China and their countries, investigations of records show. For example,Trump sold $98.4 million of property in South Florida to 63 buyers with Russian passports or addresses. He sold his personal penthouse on Park Avenue in Manhattan to Chinese investor Angela Chen.
Purchases by Milan Investment Limited Corp. of 11 condos from Trump in Las Vegas were signed for by a Texas woman who is not one of the listed officers of the LLC owned by Jun Xu and Qi Huang, Orientals who have property and residences in their home countries, Milan and other locations, including Houston.
Watchdog groups like the Citizens for Responsibility in Washington question the lack of transparency by Trump in his sales to LLCs with hidden owners. They point to the sale of Trump’s mansion in Palm Beach to Russian oligarch Dimitry Rybolovlevin 2008 as part of a lengthy history of dealings with foreigners on his lucrative business operations.
Bobby Burchfield, who calls himself an “ethics adviser” to Trump told Newsweek:
If someone wants to do business with the Trump entities in the form of an LLC, we look behind the LLC to see who the owner of it is and where the funding is coming from.” “If we can’t determine that, we won’t sign off on it.
Others say different. A real estate adviser who warns investors to avoid dealing with Trump, says the only real criteria used to make a deal is the ability to pay.
“Remember the old saying: ‘Money talks and bullshit walks,'” he adds.
A former employee of Trump says more:
If Trump needs money for another deal, which happens more often than one might think, sign-offs become easier. Russians may be enemies of our country but many of them have money to burn and pay quickly. The boss looks at the money and doesn’t worry about the rest.
Investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller is focuses in money laundering with the Trump Organization, where the money comes from and where it goes. Former strategic adviser Steve Bannon, fired by Trump last year and ousted from Breitbart News this week, told author Michael Wolff in Fire and Fury that money laundering was a regular business with Trump.
In the Watergate investigation that brought down president Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, the source identified at “Deep Throat” told reporter Bob Woodward to “follow the money.” That, he later said, “is where you usually find the truth in Washington.”
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