Business projects of Donald Trump in Russia

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Possessing real estate in almost every country in the world, Donald Trump has repeatedly pursued business deals in Russia since 1987, and has sometimes traveled there to explore potential business opportunities.[1] In 1996, Trump trademark applications were submitted for potential Russian real estate development deals.[2][3] Trump's partners and children have repeatedly visited Moscow, connecting with real estate developers and government officials to explore joint venture opportunities.[1][4][5] Moreover, multiple members of his campaign and administration, including Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Michael T. Flynn, have financial and business relationships there. However, Trump was never able to successfully conclude any real estate deals in Russia.[6][7] Russian elites invested nearly $100 million in Trump buildings.[8]

Becoming well known[edit | edit source]

In 1987 Trump visited Russia to investigate developing a hotel. In 1996 Trump partnered with Liggett-Ducat, a small company, and planned to build an upscale residential development on a Liggett-Ducat property in Moscow. Trump commissioned New York architect Ted Liebman, who did the sketches. In Russia, Trump promoted the proposal and acclaimed the Russian economic market. At a news conference reported by The Moscow Times, Trump said he hadn't been "as impressed with the potential of a city as I have been with Moscow" in contrast to other cities had visited "all over the world."[1]

By this time, Trump made known his desire to build in Moscow to government officials for almost ten years "ranging from the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev (they first met in Washington in 1987) to the military figure Alexander Lebed."[1] Moscow's mayor, Yuri M. Luzhkov, showed Trump plans for a very large shopping mall to be located underground in the vicinity of the Kremlin. The mayor complimented Trump's suggestion that this mall should be connected to the Moscow Metro, a rapid transit system serving Moscow. Hence, Okhotny Ryad shopping center visitors now have access to the Metro (underground). Although the 1996 residential development did not happen, Trump was by this time well known in Russia.[9]

Expanding the Trump brand[edit | edit source]

Donald Trump (left); Tevfik Arif (center); and Felix Sater (right). Soho 2007. Arif founded the Bayrock Group and Sater was a partner.

A wide-ranging business stratagem included Russia in ventures intended to internationally expand the Trump brand. It was in the mid-2000s that Trump transitioned from building and investing in real estate to simply licensing his name to hotels, condominiums, and commercial towers. Although a strategy of taking a percentage from the sales was successful in other countries, his terms were not agreeable to Russians and conflicted with their way of doing business with American hotel chains.[1][9]

Between 2000–2010 Trump partnered with a development company headquartered in New York represented by a Russian immigrant, Felix Sater. During this period, they partnered for an assortment of deals that included building Trump towers internationally and Russia was included. For example, in 2005 Slater acted as an agent for building a Trump tower alongside Moscow River with letters of intent in hand and "square footage was being analyzed."[1][9]

In 2006, Trump's children Donald Jr. and Ivanka stayed in the Hotel National, Moscow for several days, across from the Kremlin, to see promising partners, with the intent of doing real estate development deals. Sater had traveled to Moscow with Ivanka and Donald Jr.[1][9]

Trump was associated with Tevfik Arif, formerly a Soviet commerce official and founder of a development company called the Bayrock Group, of which Sater was also a partner. Bayrock searched for deals in Russia while Trump branded towers were attempting to further expand in the United States. Sater said, "We looked at some very, very large properties in Russia," on the scale of "...a large Vegas high-rise."[1] In 2007, Bayrock organized a potential deal in Moscow between Trump International Hotel and Russian investors.[9]

During 2006–2008 Trump's company applied for a number of trademarks in Russia with the goal of real estate developments. These trademark applications include: Trump, Trump Tower, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and Trump Home. In 2008, he said as a speaker at a Manhattan real estate conference that he feared the outcome of doing business deals in Russia, but he really prefers "Moscow over all cities in the world" and that within 18 months he had been in Russia a half-dozen times.[1][9]

Business contacts[edit | edit source]

In a 2015 interview, Trump said that his repeated attempts to launch business deals with Russians resulted in contacts with "…the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top of the government people. I can't go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary."[1][9]

Trump Super Premium Vodka, bottles glazed with 24-karat gold, debuted in 2007 at the Millionaire's Fair in Moscow. It was successful only until sometime in 2009. Trump attempted to create a reality show in St. Petersburg, starring a Russian athlete. However, this was not successful.[1][9]

Several members of Trump's corps of advisers have business links to Russia: former campaign manager Paul Manafort; former national security adviser Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn; and previous Congressman and Trump campaign spokesman Jack Kingston. Also, at a 2008 Manhattan real estate conference Donald Trump Jr. said one of Trumps main sources of income are Russian customers, "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets… we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."[4][9][10][11] After his bankruptcies in the 1990s, he borrowed money from Russian financiers.[2][3][12]

In a February 16, 2017 press conference, Trump said, "And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia." [7]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Twohey, Megan; Eder, Steve (16 January 2017). "For Trump, Three Decades of Chasing Deals in Russia". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 January 2017. Mr. Trump repeatedly sought business in Russia as far back as 1987, when he traveled there to explore building a hotel 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Donald Trump's Many, Many, Many, Many Ties to Russia". Time. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Aleem, Zeeshan. "Fact-checking Trump's claim that he has no business ties to Russia". Vox. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dorell, Oren (15 December 2016). "Why does Donald Trump like Russians? Maybe because they love his condos". USA Today. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  5. From Russia With Trump: A Political Conflict Zone. ABC news
  6. "Donald Trump's Many, Many, Many, Many Ties to Russia". Time. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Trump's Thursday Press Conference, Annotated". National Public Radio. February 16, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  8. Nathan Layne, Ned Parker, Svetlana Reiter, Stephen Grey, and Ryan McNeill (March 17, 2017). "Russian elite invested nearly $100 million in Trump buildings". Reuters. Retrieved March 20, 2017. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 Belton, Catherine; Stott, Michael (13 December 2016). "Trump's Russian connections". Financial Times. London. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  10. Kharchenko, Aleksandra (2 May 2016). "Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's top adviser, and his ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine". Politifact. Washington, DC. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  11. "Donald Trump's Many, Many Business Dealings in 1 Map". Time magazine. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017. 
  12. Brian E. Frydenborg (April 4, 2017). "Trump’s Real Estate Deals Took Money From Russian Crooks; The U.S. president's connections to alleged and actual gangsters are immense". Retrieved April 17, 2017.