The House Intelligence Committee has postponed Felix Sater‘s planned testimony on the heels of a lawsuit accusing Sater of planning to launder money with the help of a Trump Tower Moscow deal. Sater, a Trump-connected businessman whose Russian mafia ties and criminal past have been explored extensively, has been named in a lawsuit that alleges he “participated in an international criminal conspiracy to launder and conceal at least $440 million that was stolen from the Plaintiffs.”
The city of Almaty in Kazakhstan and BTA Bank JSC filed suit against Sater, Sater’s former business associate Daniel Ridloff, companies Bayrock Group Inc, Global Habitat Solutions Inc., RRMI-DR LLC, Ferrari Holdings LLC and MEM Energy Partners LLC on Monday. Sater was named in each of the six causes of action, unlike other defendants.
He’s accused of unjust enrichment, punitive damages, conversion (“wrongfully exercised dominion and control over funds rightfully belonging to the City of Almaty and BTA Bank”), unlawful means conspiracy, fraud, and money had and received (“Each of the Defendants received and benefitted from the Stolen Funds rightfully belonging to Plaintiffs”). You can read the rest of the lawsuit below.
At the start, the lawsuit calls Sater a “notorious New York ‘businessman’ and two-time felon” who participated in a conspiracy to launder millions of dollars in money stolen from the plaintiff.
Sater, “along with wanted criminals Mukhtar Ablyazov and Ilyas Khrapunov, and others known and unknown” allegedly did this and then sought to “evade lawful asset freezing and receivership orders issued by the courts of the United Kingdom.” They claim Sater “helped Ablyazov, Khrapunov, and others launder tens of millions of dollars in those stolen funds into the United States, where they were invested in real estate and used to procure immigration status for Khrapunov’s sister.”
Sater and Ridloff were accused of laundering $40 million in the United States. The lawsuit went even further, saying that Sater discussed laundering funds in 2010 and 2011 while he “still had offices in Trump Tower and held himself out as a ‘Senior Advisor to Donald Trump,’ and regularly handed out business cards carrying this title and address.” They showed a picture of the business card, as well. Trump once said if Sater were “sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”
It was further alleged that Sater discussed money laundering in Trump Tower and also “personally arranged meetings between Ilyas and Donald J. Trump to discuss possible investments.”
It was clarified that there was “no suggestion that either Ilyas or Sater disclosed to Mr. Trump the illicit origin of the Stolen Funds, or that Mr. Trump engaged in any impropriety whatsoever in connection with Ilyas Khrapunov.”
Among proposed investments:
Sater conspired with Ilyas to invest the Stolen Funds to develop a Trump Tower project in Russia, which Sater has claimed would have been a “high-rise, high-end development that could make a significant amount of money.”
On information and belief, this project in Russia was the proposed Trump Tower Moscow. As Sater recently stated to BuzzFeed News, “[m]y idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin.”
Congress has already responded to the lawsuit.
“In light of the cursory letter from the Attorney General, and our need to understand Special Counsel Mueller’s areas of inquiry and evidence his office uncovered, we are working in parallel with other committees to bring in senior officials from the DOJ, FBI and SCO to ensure that our committee is fully and currently informed about the SCO’s investigation, including all counterintelligence information,” the spokesman for the Committee said in a statement. “With the focus on those efforts this week, we are postponing Mr. Sater’s open interview.”
[Image via Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The New Yorker]