The Daily Beast reports: In 2013, Sater’s connection to Trump, who was still two years shy of running for national office, caused the mogul one of his many moments of pique with a member of the international press. Trump stormed out of a BBC Panorama interview when asked by John Sweeney, “Shouldn’t you have said, Felix Sater, you’re connected with the Mafia and you’re fired.” Trump replied by suggesting Sweeney might be “thick” and that he could not break a contract with Bayrock even if Sater’s mob ties were established to his satisfaction.
Sater’s tenure at Bayrock wasn’t just confined to leveraging the Trump brand. He was accused of threatening gruesome acts of violence against erstwhile business associates who were in a position to disclose his shady history. In 2007, the manager of one Trump hotel-condo in Phoenix, Arizona, sued Sater after he allegedly threatened to get a cousin to electrocute the manager’s testicles, dismember him and leave him “dead in the trunk of his car.” Sater reportedly settled that case out of court, but denied the charges.
By 2010, Sater was out at Bayrock — but in at the Trump Organization. He reportedly brandished a business card naming him as a “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump.” He also had a valid email address at the organization, a phone number that had previously belonged to one of Trump’s general counsels, and his own office in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
Sater’s role as an employee of the Trump Organization also came to light when he was accused of shaking down one of his former colleagues at Bayrock.
Jody Kriss, the former finance director of Bayrock, alleged that he was entitled to a share of the $227 million profits in the Trump SoHo project. As reported by The Daily Beast in August 2016, Kriss claimed, in a court case filed in Delaware, that he was owed $7 million for his work on the project but offered a settlement of only half a million dollars. His principal antagonist in recouping his investment, he said, was Felix Sater.
In sworn testimony, Kriss stated that his money had become entangled with an Icelandic financial company known as FL Group, which seemed to draw Russian investors “in favor” with Vladimir Putin. (Bayrock founder Tevfik Arif was also part of this deal.) According to Kriss:
“Felix Satter [sic] told me that the deal with FL prohibited me from getting the rest in that I could either take the money and shut up or risk being killed if I made trouble. I knew at that time Satter had served a prison sentence for first degree assault (stabbing someone in the face with a wine glass stem) and with learning what would soon become common knowledge, that Satter had had a decades-long involvement with the New York and Russian mafia and had just in 2007 been sued in a civil action in Phoenix.”
The Delaware case ultimately was dismissed because of jurisdiction; but the judge stated on the record that Kriss’s accusations appeared to be legitimate. Sater’s defense team denied allegations.
In a separate and still-pending suit to which Kriss is a plaintiff, this one filed in New York’s Southern District, he has alleged that “tax evasion and money-laundering are the core of Bayrock’s business model.”
The defendants have argued that the suit amounts to a shakedown, but the judge has ruled that Kriss has enough of a case to warrant moving forward.
As for Sater, he had coffee the other day with the president’s personal lawyer and discussed a peace plan for Ukraine. [Continue reading…]