In 2004, Donald Trump battled his then-friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein for the ownership of a massive, Palm Beach, Florida, mansion — a lavish estate known as Maison de l’Amitie. As The Inquisitr has covered, Trump was said to be determined to acquire the mansion “no matter the price.”
Finally, Trump won the battle with Epstein, buying the palatial, 6.3-acre property for $41 million. But what he reportedly did with the property later caused the transaction to be cast into suspicion. Though Trump called the estate “the finest piece of land in Florida, and probably the United States,” as quoted by Politico, and pledged to make such extensive improvements to the structure that it would become “the second-greatest house in America” (surpassed, he said, only by his own Mar-a-Lago resort, also in Palm Beach), Trump did nothing significant to the property.
Nonetheless, just four years later and without upgrading the property, Trump sold Maison de l’Amitie for a staggering $95 million, more than twice what he had paid for it. Who would be willing to make such a seemingly extravagant and pointless investment — reportedly the single highest price ever paid for an American house circa 2008?
The buyer was a Russian billionaire named Dmitry Rybolovlev (pictured above), a former medical student who got rich in the chaotic Russia of the 1990s, in the potassium fertilizer manufacturing industry. In addition, he reportedly had once served a year behind bars on a murder charge, for which he was later cleared. Rybolovlev reportedly never occupied the mansion, and in 2018, the ultra-luxury home was demolished.
Now, according to a new report by investigative journalist Wendy Siegelman published Tuesday via Medium, Rybolovlev appears to have reemerged on the U.S. scene, with what appears to be links to the ownership of an energy company that “aims to help power the U.S. electrical grid.”
Rybolovlev, according to Siegelman’s report, funded a now-bankrupt North Carolina battery company, Alevo, that manufactured batteries known as GridBank units that would keep the U.S. electrical grid running during blackouts, as well as providing power to remote areas.
After its 2017 bankruptcy, however, Alevo reformed as a company known as Innolith — retaining many of Alevo’s management team. But one new Innolith board of directors member is Anna Kolonchina, who is also the CEO of a holding company that represents Rybolovlev’s family.
“It is common for large investors to have representation on a company’s board of directors, which makes the appointment of Kolonchina an intriguing new link from Innolith to Rybolovlev,” Siegelman wrote.
Though Alevo — now Innolith — sold only one of the 16,000 GridBank units it has projected it would sell, that single unit was hooked into the PJM Interconnection network in Maryland, an organization that “manages the high-voltage electricity grid to ensure reliability for more than 65 million people,” Siegelman reported.
Though the single GridBank would not give the company control over the U.S. power grid, it would allow access to gain intelligence into the grid’s inner workings. According to report by the trade journal Electrical Contractor, Russian hackers have been attempting to attack the grid at least since March 2016.