Sometime in 2002, Donald Trump strikes a deal with a crime-entrenched real estate investment firm named Bayrock Group. The deal is this: Bayrock can use Trump’s name on its properties, and Trump will pocket between 18% and 25% of those properties’ profits.
The deal couldn’t have come at a more opportune time; Trump was $4 billion in debt from the disasters surrounding his Atlantic City businesses, and U.S. banks had turned against him. But, like many other connections in Trump’s life, this one has ties to international criminals.
Icelandic banks that dealt with Bayrock, for example, were easy marks for money launderers and foreign influence, according to interviews with government investigators, legislators, and others in Reykjavik, Brussels, Paris and London. Trump testified under oath in a 2007 deposition that Bayrock brought Russian investors to his Trump Tower office to discuss deals in Moscow.Bloomberg
One of Bayrock’s principals was a career criminal named Felix Sater who had ties to Russian and American organized crime groups. Before linking up with the company and with Trump, he had worked as a mob informant for the U.S. government, fled to Moscow to avoid criminal charges while boasting of his KGB and Kremlin contacts there, and had gone to prison for slashing apart another man’s face with a broken cocktail glass.Bloomberg
A former Bayrock member later sued the company, claiming that the people in charge were skimming profits off the top, using the company to launder money, dodging taxes, and cheating employees out of millions of dollars.
Between 2002 and 2011, the deal would continue and eventually extend to partnerships with Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.