The Washington Post reports: An American-based employee of a Russian real estate company took part in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr., bringing to eight the number of known participants at the session that has emerged as a key focus of the investigation of the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians.
Ike Kaveladze’s presence was confirmed by Scott Balber, an attorney for Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Balber said Kaveladze works for the Agalarovs’ company and attended as their representative.
Balber said Tuesday that he received a phone call from a representative of Special Counsel Robert Mueller over the weekend asking if Kaveladze would agree to be interviewed. Balber said his client would cooperate. The request is the first public indication that Mueller’s team is investigating the meeting.
In 2000, Kaveladze’s actions as the head of a Delaware company called International Business Creations were the subject of a government investigation into how Russians and other foreigners were able to launder large amounts of money through U.S. banks.
The GAO report, which had been requested by Congress, concluded that it was “relatively easy” for these foreigners to use shell companies to open U.S. banks accounts and route hidden money through the American financial system.
The report described the activities of IBC’s president, who Balber confirmed was Kaveladze.
Balber said Kaveladze was not charged with any crime as a result of the inquiry, which he said was largely focused on the internal procedures of U.S. banks.
“There has never been any indication that he did anything wrong,” Balber said. “From his perspective, it was a big nothing.”
According to the GAO, Kaveladze opened 236 bank accounts in the U.S. for corporations formed in Delaware on behalf of mostly Russian brokers. Kaveladze told officers of two U.S. banks that he had conducted investigations of the Russian companies for which he opened accounts. However, he told GAO investigators that was not truthful.
“He admitted to us that he made such representations to the banks but that he in fact had not investigated the companies,” the report said.
All told, the report traced the movement of $1.4 billion in wire transfer transactions deposited in to 236 accounts opened at the two banks, Citibank and Commercial Bank. [Continue reading…]