The construction of the Trump Ocean Club, an impressive hotel and condominium in Panama City, was used to launder money from drugs and Russian mafias, and it benefited the now president, Donald Trump, according to a report published today. by the organization Global Witness.
The work, conducted with interviews with businessmen and lawyers involved in the project, ensures that the real estate magnate and magnate won “millions of dollars selling his name” to the Trump Ocean Club, a huge sail-shaped building facing the Pacific inaugurated by the Trump himself in 2011 and projected to become one of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America.
“After granting him the license to use his name to the Trump Ocean Club in 2006, Trump seems to have turned a blind eye to the source of funds of the buyers and the background of some of the specific sales agents,” says the British NGO specialized in uncovering international cases of corruption, human rights abuses and environmental exploitation.
The investigation, carried out for nine months, specifically mentions the laundering of money from the Latin American drug cartels as well as elements of the Russian mafia.
“The important thing here is that Trump’s business now is not just his business, it’s the president of the United States and, therefore, it’s the nation’s business, and voters and citizens have the right to know” if he could benefit of money laundering operations, Eryn Schornick, one of the authors, told Efe.
According to Schornick, although it is difficult to know exactly due to the opacity of the Trump accounts, the now president was able to obtain 75.4 million dollars with this business at least until 2010, including bonds, exploitation rights and other concepts, as that you have to add several million more since then.
The report specifically mentions the names of Colombian criminal David Murcia Guzmán, convicted in the US for laundering money from drug trafficking and creator of a financial pyramid in Colombia with which he defrauded millions of dollars.
Also the Brazilian Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, Murcia partner who managed the sale of about a third of the 666 acquisitions of apartments in pre-construction at the Trump Ocean Club.
Ventura Nogueira, also prosecuted for fraud, was instrumental in the commercialization of the project with a team of sales agents who often directed their sales to buyers of Russian origin and Eastern Europe, and among those who, according to him, acknowledged the same Nogueira, there were members of the Russian mafia.
“Trump was one of the beneficiaries, since he received a percentage of all sales,” says Global Witness, which indicates that the information disclosed by Trump upon becoming president shows that “he was still making money from an administration contract for Trump. Ocean Club when he took office “, last January.
The NGO admits not knowing “the scope of the knowledge that Trump has of these agents of sales and buyers”, but indicates that “it is very probable that the Trump Organization had the right to receive sales reports and demand information about the buyers”.
“This must be investigated, Trump has earned millions thanks to a project used by Latin American drug cartels to launder money.
For a responsible businessman there were warning signs (enough), but it seems that Trump did not want to be aware, “said Schornick.
The senior policy adviser to Global Witness said her organization has already contacted the team of special prosecutor Robert Mueller and the committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives investigating Trump, to find out if he should answer for benefiting of money laundering.
About Panama, whose government the investigators did not contact because none of its members is involved in the case, Schornick said that there are still opportunities to launder money, but that this is not an exclusive Panamanian problem, but affects many other countries, including the United States.