By Caribbean News Now contributor
ROAD TOWN, BVI — Secret documents obtained by BuzzFeed News, reveal a previously undisclosed complex web of financial transactions among some of the planners and participants in the infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, involving the movement of money from Russia and Switzerland to the British Virgin Islands, Bangkok and New Jersey.
The documents show Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer close to both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, at the centre of a vast network and how he used accounts overseas to filter money to himself, his son, and at least two people who attended the Trump Tower meeting, BuzzFeed News reported.
Federal law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed News that investigators are focused on two bursts of transactions that bank examiners deemed suspicious: one a short time after the meeting and another immediately after the November 2016 presidential election.
The first set came just 11 days after the June 9 meeting, when a BVI company called Silver Valley Consulting controlled by Agalarov wired more than $19.5 million to his account at a bank in New York.
Silver Valley’s only address is a post office box in the BVI, a British territory that figured prominently in the Offshore Leaks database as a haven for money laundering and tax evasion.
On June 20, the day that Donald Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and put Paul Manafort in charge, Silver Valley sent through its Zurich-based account a wire transfer for a little more than $19.5 million to Agalarov’s account at Morgan Stanley in the US.
The transactions came to light after law enforcement officials instructed financial institutions in mid-2017 to go back through their records to look for suspicious behaviour by people connected to the broader Trump-Russia investigation. The bankers filed “suspicious activity reports” to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which in turn shared them with the FBI, the IRS, congressional committees investigating Russian interference, and members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
Between 2006 and 2016, Silver Valley made nearly 200 transactions for $190 million, some of which raised red flags.
US bank examiners found that Silver Valley received nearly $900,000 in 2012 from a Russian investigated in the past for tax evasion and embezzlement.
The following year, Silver Valley received two payments from an aviation firm that were flagged by bankers because they learned that a shareholder was involved with a suspected Russian money laundering scheme.
According to interview transcripts and documents released earlier this year by the Senate Judiciary Committee about the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting between top Trump campaign officials and Russians promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, “the relationship between Trump and Agalarov was far cozier than previously known, helping to explain why top Trump campaign aides jumped at the chance to meet – at Agalarov’s request – with the visiting Russians” on June 9.