As controversy over the report by Russian investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and the four-page summary of Mueller's report by Attorney General William Barr, continued to grip Washington D.C. and the media, new allegations linking the Donald Trump Moscow project to a massive money laundering operation appeared in a new lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York, according to a report by Bloomberg News.
The lawsuit — posted online by Forbes investigative reporter Richard Behar — says that longtime Trump business associate Felix Sater and former Trump Organization executive Daniel Ridloff ran a criminal conspiracy to "launder and conceal at least $440 million" stolen from BTA Bank, which was once among the largest financial institutions in Kazakhstan.
The lawsuit states that Sater conspired to launder the stolen funds with Kazakh businessman Ilyas Khrapunov, who last year was fined $500 million by the United Kingdom court for aiding his father-in-law, Mukhtar Ablyazov, in the massive fraud scheme, according to The Diplomat.
Though the lawsuit does not claim that Trump himself knew about the alleged Sater-Khrapunov money laundering scheme, the court filing does state, "Sater not only met with Ilyas Khrapunov in Trump Tower to discuss laundering the stolen funds, but he also personally arranged meetings between Ilyas and Donald J. Trump to discuss possible investments."Trump has denied knowing Sater, who was scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. But that testimony was postponed to allow the committee to conduct an inquiry into Barr's cursory summary of the Mueller report, according to The Hill.
In 2009, Ablyazov — then head of BTA — allegedly embezzled $5 billion from the bank in one of the largest financial frauds in history, according to Bloomberg. Ablyazov, who has lived as a fugitive outside of Kazakhstan since 2009, is also accused of ordering the 2004 murder of a rival executive at the bank, Yerzhan Tatishev, according to a Radio Free Europe report. Ablyazov continues to deny both accusations.
Khrapunov and Sater are accused in the lawsuit of attempting to launder millions of dollars worth of the embezzled cash through what would have been the Moscow Trump Tower deal. Both Sater and Khrapunov have denied the allegations in the BTA Bank lawsuit.
Trump's Moscow project never got off the ground, but Khrapunov and Sater allegedly laundered some of the money through another Trump project, Trump Tower Soho in lower Manhattan, New York City, according to Bloomberg. Sater's company, Bayrock — which had an office in the main Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue — partnered with Trump to build the Soho project, which has since gone into foreclosure and been bought by new owners, as Inquisitr has reported.
In another Trump connection to BTA Bank, reported by The Associated Press, the Kazakh financial giant hired Trump's now-former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen in 2017 to provide assistance with the ongoing litigation in the Ablyazov embezzlement case, but fired Cohen after just two months, saying that he "did absolutely nothing of value."
Cohen and Sater are childhood friends and they collaborated on the Trump Tower Moscow project, as The Inquisitr has reported.