Throughout his campaign trail, Donald Trump was regularly linked to Russia. Whether its claims he’d colluded with them to sabotage Hilary Clinton or reports of his business ties with Russian executives and government officials, it was often speculated he was in someway tied with Russia. Ever since he became President of the United States, his rhetoric has become even more insistent that he has nothing to do with the former Soviet powerhouse.
The real truth however tends to differ from his narrative, and it’s now been proven that members of the Russian elite have in fact invested in buildings that Trump owns.
A recent Reuters review has reported that there are at least 63 individuals that hold Russian passports whom have brought roughly $98.4 million dollars worth of real estate in southern Florida, where trump owns a number of Trump branded luxury condos.
Amongst these buyers are politically connected businessman, including former executives of state run construction companies, investment bankers, a founders of a conglomerate with interests in property and electronics plus many other high profile individuals.
Chief among these Russian elites is the founder of the St. Petersburg based Viking Bank, Alexey Ustaev. Records show that he purchased a $1.2 million dollar apartment in the Trump Palace complex located in Florida. Viking Bank is one of the first Russian private investment banks post the fall of communism.
A prominent senior executive at Spetstroi by the name of Alexander Yuzvik also purchased a unit in Trump Palace for $1.3 million dollars in 2010. Spetstroi, for those interested, is a state owned construction company that has carried out building projects on military facilities such as the Moscow training academy of the FSB, Russia’s primary civilian intelligence service and successor of the KGB.
Since purchasing in the United States Russian elites have also done quite well on their own terms, for example the politician Vadim Valeryevich Gataullin. 5 years after buying an apartment for $3.5 million in the Trump Hollywood complex, Gataullin sold the apartment for $4.1 million to a Delaware-based limited liability company whose owner is not identified in state records.
Of all the properties that trump owns, six of these are situated in the resort destination of Sunny Isles Beach. According to a recent census, Sunny Isles beach and the surrounding localities have the highest number of Russian-born residents living within the US.
The final verdict from the Reuters review states that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on behalf of President Trump or his subsidiaries. It also reports that none of the investors from the last 10 years can be directly linked to President Vladimir Putin. The insinuations linger though, with many members of the investigation admitting that these individuals carry a huge amount of power back on their home turf.
If we simply go off forms Trump submitted during the 2016 presidential campaign, he only makes money on one of these six towers and not the seventh, earning as much as €1 million from a business called Trump Marks Sunny Isles LLC. Whether or not you believe this is another question.
Throughout President Trump’s short yet incendiary tenure there have been vocal proponents for his impeachment. Perhaps now is the time for him to put these objectors to rest by releasing his tax returns and laying everything out on the table. Until then though, his presidency should be met with skepticism and concern.
Please note the Reuters’ report was compiled using Florida property records and interviews in both the United States and Russia.