There were so many outrageous things to report regarding Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign that it seems the press may have failed to report on a story that was so outrageous that it might have changed the outcome of the election.
The story was not one of some liberal reporter’s theory or speculation. It was a documented fact that the US Treasury fined Trump’s casinos $10 million for “significant, long standing anti-money laundering violations” pic.twitter.com/6PAAfxEhJQ
However it wasn’t just money laundering for just anyone. It appears it was the Iranian government. What we know is that Cuba wasn’t the only hostile regime that Donald Trump was willing to do business with. The businessman — who has been a vocal critic of the Iranian nuclear agreement throughout his campaign — had no problem with taking money from an Iranian bank linked to international terrorist activity and nuclear development. Furthermore, the banks’ clients were specifically singled out by the Bush Administration after the 9/11 attacks, yet the professional relationship with Donald Trump continued.
Trump inherited Bank Melli, one of Iran’s largest state-controlled banks, as a tenant when he purchased the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, according to public records reviewed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Center for Public Integrity. The Trump Organization kept the bank on as a tenant for four more years after the U.S. Treasury Department designated Bank Melli in 1999 as being controlled by the Iranian government.
U.S. officials later alleged that Bank Melli had been used to obtain sensitive materials for Iran’s nuclear program. U.S. authorities also alleged that the bank had been used between 2002 and 2006 to funnel money to a unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that has sponsored terrorist attacks — a period that overlapped with the time the bank rented office space from Trump.
A court document obtained by ICIJ indicates that Bank Melli’s rent on more than 8,000 square feet on the GM Building’s 44th floor may have topped half a million dollars a year.
While there may be much still unknown about this money, the clear assumption is that Trump didn’t pay taxes on it.
In another article published before the election, Trump was reported to be the top executive of the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. In 2015 the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, fined the Taj Mahal Casino $10 million for “willful and repeated violations” of U.S. law. Those violations involved transgressions of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA, also known as the Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act), which, in part, was designed to prevent money laundering by terrorist groups, corrupt foreign leaders and criminal organizations.
The citation was issued because Trump’s casino left the “financial system unacceptably exposed” to criminal activity. “Trump Taj Mahal has a long history of prior, repeated BSA violations cited by examiners dating back to 2003,” states a FinCEN press release announcing the $10 million fine. “Additionally, in 1998, FinCEN assessed a $477,700 civil money penalty against Trump Taj Mahal for currency-transaction reporting violations.” Thus it seems this is a violation of the law that has been perpetrated by Trump for almost 20 years.
The casino, according to FinCEN, admitted to breaking the law by failing to:
• Implement and maintain an effective anti-money laundering program;
• Report suspicious transactions;
• File currency transaction reports for cash transactions involving more than $10,000; and
• Keep required records as mandated by the BSA.
“The IMF [International Monetary Fund] and World Bank estimate that 3 percent to 5 percent of global GDP [gross domestic product] is laundered — approximately $2.17 [trillion] to $3.61 trillion annually,” the U.S. State Department reports on its website. “Narco-traffickers, kleptocrats, transnational organized criminals are but three significant entities that engage in the effort to disguise their illegal proceeds ….
“When criminals (including corrupt officials) and organized crime syndicates disguise the illicit nature of their proceeds by introducing them as legal funds into the stream of legitimate commerce and finance, they not only are clandestinely hiding their ongoing affairs but they are also tainting the international financial system and eroding public trust in its integrity.”
“In fact, one of the more glaring money-laundering threats that played out at the casino under now-presidential candidate Trump’s leadership was the employment of a high-level executive allegedly linked to organized crime. Danny Leung, Trump Taj Mahal’s vice president for marketing from 1990 until early 1993, was identified in 1992 by a Senate subcommittee as “an associate of the 14K Triad,” a Hong Kong-based criminal organization involved in murder, money laundering, extortion and narco-trafficking.
The New York Daily News reported in 1995 that, according to New Jersey regulators, Leung allegedly “flew in 16 Italian organized crime figures from Canada who stole more than $1 million from the [Trump Taj Mahal] casino in a credit scam.” The newspaper also indicated that the incident was “never reported” because Trump didn’t file charges.”
“Casinos are cash-intensive businesses, and many offer a wide variety of financial services, similar to banks. Without effective safeguards, they may be vulnerable to money laundering.”
Anti-money laundering industry expert and former U.S. prosecutor Charles Intriago, principal of Intriago Advisors, says “laundering dirty money is easy to do in a casino” that doesn’t have proper safeguards in place, as was the case for years at Trump Taj Mahal, including under Trump’s ownership and executive leadership.
Trump Taj Mahal does not represent the first time current presidential candidate Trump has been associated with business operations accused of failing to adhere to US anti-money laundering laws.
In 2005, Trump cut a business deal with a company called Bayrock Group LLC to build a hotel in Moscow. Although that project didn’t pan out, Trump did later team with Bayrock on the Trump SoHo hotel-condominium development in New York City.
That Trump project in 2007 received a shot in the arm, along with several other Bayrock projects, in the form of a $50 million dollar investment from an Icelandic investment firm. That company, the FL Group, was backed by Russians “who were in favor with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” pleadings in a lawsuit against Bayrock allege.
Bayrock is the target of a pending civil-racketeering lawsuit filed by the company’s former finance director and another employee. The plaintiffs allege in the pleadings that Bayrock is “covertly mob-owned and operated” and accuse the company’s principals of engaging in “money laundering, conspiracy, bribery, extortion and embezzlement.”
“Trump Taj Mahal received many warnings about its deficiencies,” said current FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery in a prepared statement. “Like all casinos in this country, Trump Taj Mahal has a duty to help protect our financial system from being exploited by criminals, terrorists and other bad actors. Far from meeting these expectations, poor compliance practices, over many years [dating back to 1998] left the casino and our financial system unacceptably exposed.”