Recently a $250 million civil tax fraud case was dismissed against former Donald Trump associate Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman and real estate executive. The real estate company Bayrock was being cited in a “qui tam” lawsuit, which makes it possible for a whistleblower to file a suit on behalf of the state. The state, through the Attorney General can make the decision to get involved in the case or not.
In this situation the whistleblower was Fred Oberlander, an attorney who had represented Jody Kriss, a former business partner of Slater when Kriss brought a suit against Sater and his company for money-laundering. The problem for Oberlander and his lawsuit was that it was based on information that federal judges had stricken from the original complaint brought by Oberlander.
This is not usually a valid form of evidence when one goes to court, especially since the use of this information was banned and ordered to be removed because it was deemed to be confidential. It is no surprise that Oberlander and his lawsuit did not prevail.
In the initial lawsuit that was brought against Sater by Jody Kriss, it was alleged that Bayrock had, for much of the entirety of its existence, was owned and run by organized crime and there was a continual pattern of bank fraud, money-laundering, tax evasion, bribery, conspiracy, embezzlement, mail and wire fraud, and extortion.
Jody Kriss had accused the founder of Bayrock, TevfikArif and Sater of filching him out of millions of funds through money-laundering, racketeering, and fraud. The aftermath was that a judge from New York made a ruling that the lawsuit would be able to be moved along as a racketeering case in court.
Kriss alleged that Arif and Sater were in constant negotiations and meetings with Donald Trump in the year 2003 in order to market various real estate projects under the Trump name, but that Trump was not advised about Sater’s past as a criminal.
During a deposition in 2007, Trump said that he would have never agreed to do business with Sater if he had been informed or had any knowledge of Sater’s past. Trump also testified that he did not know who Sater was and that even if he was in the same room with Sater he would not recognize him.
Sater’s office was located in Trump Tower, two floors below Trump’s office in Trump Tower. A person who is said to have valid information on this situation stated anonymously, for fear of retribution from Sater and his colleagues, that Trump and Sater met weekly each week regarding their real estate adventure. It was also said that Trump did value the loyalty of Sater and his connections to Russia.
Trump did make the comment, according to Sater, that it would be ridiculous that he would not be investing in Russia because it was a very good time to be investing there. At the time, investing in Russian real estate was a positive financial idea.
Based on this information, one would conclude that Trump and Sater were indeed working together on some sort of business arrangement, and were perhaps involved together in various real estate investments. Despite all of the goings on in the various mechanizations of business transactions between them is still largely speculative based on Trump’s stated view of the relationship.
Since the New York Attorney General declined to intervene in the lawsuit pretty much becomes the bottom line on any further litigation in this area. Certainly now that Trump is President of the United States, there is not likely to be any further implications for him in this case either.
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