Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
President Donald Trump insulted Haiti during an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers, but he once signed off on a shady real estate deal with the nation’s ousted dictator.
More than a fifth of Trump’s condominiums in the U.S. have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive cash transactions that fit a Treasury Department definition of suspicious transactions, reported Buzzfeed News.
Records show more than 1,300 Trump condos were purchased through shell companies, which allow buyers to shield their finances and identities, and without a mortgage, which protects buyers from lender inquiries.
Those two characteristics raise alarms about possible money laundering, according to statements issued in recent months by the Department of Treasury, which has investigated transactions just like those all over the country.
The agency may even require real estate professionals to adopt new programs to keep illegally obtained funds from being plowed into luxury housing to conceal the money’s origins.
Trump companies reportedly sold $35 million in real estate last year alone — mostly to secretive shell companies that open the president up to possible influence peddling.
According to the Buzzfeed News report, the Haitian government complained in the 1980s that former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier laundered money stolen from the Caribbean nation’s treasury by purchasing an apartment in Trump Tower.
Duvalier, nicknamed “Baby Doc,” was overthrown in 1986, but three years earlier used a Panamanian shell company called Lasa Trade and Finance to buy apartment 54-K in Trump’s Manhattan tower for $446,875 cash.
Trump, the future U.S. president, signed the deed of sale.
Federal prosecutors charged a Russian native in 1984 with laundering the proceeds from a gasoline bootlegging operation through five Trump Tower condos purchased for $4.9 million.
David Bogatin pleaded guilty in 1987 and served eight years in federal prison.
Trump Taj Mahal casino was charged under anti-money laundering regulations 106 times in 1990 and 1991 by failing to identify gamblers who bought or cashed out more than $10,000 in chips.
Those reports are required to help authorities identify gamblers who may be laundering money, and Trump’s casino paid a $477,000 fine to the Treasury Department in 1998 without admitting wrongdoing.