A new report says the Trump Organization used to be in business with the Bayrock Group, a controversial development company whose principal partner had ties to the mob, and may have received Russian funding through an Icelandic investment firm (video below).
Timothy L. O'Brien, the executive editor of Bloomberg View, told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on June 20 the funding that came into Bayrock was "very murky."
O'Brien said that Felix Satar, a partner at Bayrock, was tasked to round up funds for the Trump Organization's building projects with Bayrock.
According to O'Brien, Satar was a career criminal with mob ties, had gone to jail for assault and had run a pump-and-dump scam, but ended up sitting in Trump Tower with the future president.
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Maddow noted that after Bayrock closed down, Satar went to work for the Trump Organization as a senior adviser, had an office at Trump Tower, and sported a Trump Organization business card.
O'Brien said that Satar surfaced again in early 2017, according to The New York Times, and pushed for President Donald Trump regarding a Ukraine peace proposal.
Bayrock, which was housed in the Trump Tower, did real estate deals with with Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump from 2002 to about 2011, O'Brien noted in Bloomberg View.
Sater was reportedly a mob informant for the U.S. government who once fled to Russia while bragging about his ties to the KGB and the Russian government.
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Jody Kriss, a former Bayrock employee who is suing Bayrock, told O'Brien that Bayrock approached Trump in 2002 when Trump was putting his business back together after weathering some hard financial times in the 1990s.
"Trump was trying to build his brand and Bayrock was trying to market it," Kriss said. "It wasn’t clear who needed each other more. This was before ["The Apprentice"], remember."
Kriss recalled that Bayrock pitched Trump an international chain of Trump-branded, mixed-use hotels and condominiums.
O'Brien noted how Trump was faltering financially when he got "The Apprentice" in 2004: "In the real world, Trump's casinos were faltering. But on reality TV, Trump posed as a successful leader and dealmaker who embodied a certain kind of entrepreneurial flair and over-the-top billionairedom -- an impression that stuck with tens of millions of TV viewers."
"That put Bayrock in a great position once the show debuted," Kriss stated. "The show did it for Trump, man. Nobody was interested in licensing his name before that."
Kriss said the Trump family saw Sater "frequently" because "Felix demonstrated that he was loyal to them," and that Satar met with Trump multiple times a week at Trump Tower.
Kriss recalled that Bayrock and Trump went in on a number of Trump-branded development deals, which were funded in large part by an Icelandic investment bank called the FL Group.
According to Kriss, Satar and another Bayrock partner told him that the money behind the Icelandic banks "was mostly Russian" and that they accepted the money because the FL Group was "closer to Putin."
"I thought it was a lie or a joke when they said Putin," Kriss stated. "I didn’t know how to make sense of it at all."
Kriss does not have any financial records that tie Russian President Vladimir Putin to the FL Group, and a Kremlin spokesman told O'Brien via email that Putin did not have a connection to Bayrock or the FL Group.
Sater and other Bayrock executives would not comment to O'Brien, but they have described Kriss in court papers as basically a disgruntled employee who is trying to get cash from them.
Trump's representatives did not respond to O'Brien, whom Trump sued and lost over O'Brien's biography, "TrumpNation."