28 Mar 2017 11:09 PM EST
-by Trista McKenzie, Contributing Writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image Source: Gage Skidmore via Flickr)
A new report by USA Today is claiming that while expanding real estate developments, President Donald Trump and his company and partners allegedly turned to wealthy Russians with ties to organized crime.
In the report, the news organization reviewed "court cases, government and legal documents and an interview with a former federal prosecutor."
"The president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering," USA Today explains. Included in these 10 connections are, according to the report:
• A member of the firm that developed the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York is a twice-convicted felon who spent a year in prison for stabbing a man and later scouted for Trump investments in Russia.
• An investor in the SoHo project was accused by Belgian authorities in 2011 in a $55 million money-laundering scheme.
• Three owners of Trump condos in Florida and Manhattan were accused in federal indictments of belonging to a Russian-American organized crime group and working for a major international crime boss based in Russia.
• A former mayor from Kazakhstan was accused in a federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles in 2014 of hiding millions of dollars looted from his city, some of which was spent on three Trump SoHo units.
• A Ukrainian owner of two Trump condos in Florida was indicted in a money-laundering scheme involving a former prime minister of Ukraine.
Trump has claimed multiple times that he has no connections with Russia.
"I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we've stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia. I have no loans with Russia at all," Trump claimed in February.
But records show that he has indeed had connections to Russia, beginning as early as 1979, according to Raw Story. Even as early as 2013, Trump told Real Estate Weekly about his access to powerful Russians.
"I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room," Trump said.
Donald Trump Jr. told Russian media in Moscow five years prior that "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets" in places like Dubai and Trump SoHo, as well as other New York locations.
"I had contacts in Moscow looking to invest in the United States," NYC real estate broker Dolly Lenz told USA Today. "They all wanted to meet Donald. They became very friendly."
She revealed that she sold about 65 condos in Trump World at 845 U.N. Plaza in Manhattan to Russian investors. Many of the investors sought personal meetings with Trump, which were held at his office at Trump Tower or at sales events.
The revelation comes at a particularly rough time for the current president, as an FBI investigation into possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian operatives to interfere with the election is also underway. Trump's business with Russians also goes back decades, raising questions about if his policies could be influenced by his business dealings.
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