The Russian Connection: Money Laundering 101

It was reported yesterday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had subpoenaed the bank records of the Trump family from Deutsche Bank. Duetsche Bank has a rather dubious history of laundering money for everyone from drug lords to arms dealers to oligarchs. Just this psst January, the bank was fined $620 million for its part in $10 billion Russian money-laundering scheme that involved the bank’s Moscow, New York, and London branches. The Trump family has had to rely on the bank for loans since they have been blackballed for their underhanded policy of suing the institutes to whom they owe money and declaring multiple bankruptcies. The Trump organization has also been involving in money laundering through its now defunct casinos

The Trump Taj Mahal casino broke anti-money laundering rules 106 times in its first year and a half of operation in the early 1990s, according to the IRS in a 1998 settlement agreement. [..]

The casino repeatedly failed to properly report gamblers who cashed out $10,000 or more in a single day, the government said.

Trump’s casino ended up paying the Treasury Department a $477,000 fine in 1998 without admitting any liability under the Bank Secrecy Act.

The violations date back to a time when the Taj Mahal was the preferred gambling spot for Russian mobsters living in Brooklyn, according to federal investigators who tracked organized crime in New York City. They also occurred at a time when the Taj Mahal casino was short on cash and on the verge of bankruptcy.

More Russians. Who would have guessed?

One of the charges against Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is money laundering.

According to the CNN artcle there are two kinds of money laundering, international and domestic. Manofort and his partner, Robert Gates, are charged with both.

Citing the international money laundering provision, the indictment alleges that Manafort and Gates conspired to transfer money into or out of the United States with the intent to promote the crime of failing to register as a foreign agent.

Citing the domestic money laundering provision, it alleges that Manafort and Gates conspired to conduct transactions involving the proceeds of the FARA violation with knowledge that the transactions were designed either to conceal or disguise the source of the money or to evade taxes.

The domestic and international money laundering provisions operate differently. Whereas the domestic provision looks rearward — focusing on the source of the money being laundered, in other words, the proceeds of illegal activity (otherwise known as “dirty money”) — the international one looks forward, making it an offense to use money derived from any source, legal or illegal, to promote a specified crime in the future.

Under the international provision, the money can be perfectly “clean;” the crime is in using it to break the law down the road.

Renovations on a Brooklyn, New York brownstone owned by Manfort has been shut down by the NYC Buildings Department.

City officials slapped a stop-work order on Manafort’s Brooklyn brownstone — a property that federal prosecutors have alleged is one way Manafort was able to launder millions of dollars he earned overseas.

The order isn’t related to the money-laundering allegations — it was issued after somebody complained to 311 that there was no DOB work permit posted outside the property at 377 Union Street. When city inspectors responded on Nov. 28, they discovered that contractors did not have an approved plan for work they were doing to the home, and that they had installed a fire suppression sprinkler system without the proper permits. The department issued two violations and full stop work order.

A nearby resident told neighborhood blog Pardon Me For Asking, which first reported the stop-work order, that it hasn’t actually led to work stopping.

“The Sheriff drove up and they shut lights off,” the neighbor told the blog. “Sheriff drove away, they resumed work.”

So how does money laundering work? MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explains just how a Russian criminal would launder $10 million.