January 30, 2018

Following the money behind Trump golf courses

Golf - The House Intelligence Committee released 184 pages of sworn testimony by Glenn Simpson, whose opposition research into Trump resulted in the now-famous FBI dossier. The committee is investigating alleged ties between Trump aides and Russian agents during the 2016 election. Simpson’s firm, Fusion GPS, had been hired to find damaging material on Trump during the campaign.

Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, testified that Trump’s courses may have been money laundering sites for the Russian mafia.

"As we pieced together the early years of [Trump’s] biography, it seemed as if during the early part of his career he had connections to a lot of Italian mafia figures, and then gradually during the 90s became associated with Russian mafia figures," Simpson testified.

"Generally speaking, the patterns of activity that we thought might be suggestive of money laundering were, you know, fast turnover deals and deals where there seemed to have been efforts to disguise the identity of the buyer," Simpson added.

Among those that fit that pattern? Trump’s courses in Scotland and Ireland.

"They don't, on their face, show Russian involvement, but what they do show is enormous amounts of capital flowing into these projects from unknown sources and — or at least on paper it says it's from The Trump Organization, but it's hundreds of millions of dollars," Simpson said under oath.

"And these golf course are just, you know, they're sinks. They don't actually make any money."

One of the properties in question was Trump International Golf Links Ireland, a seaside resort in Doonbeg, County Clare. Trump bought the property in 2014 for €8.7 million (roughly $11.9 million at the time) and promised to invest €45 million into it. The Doonbeg course has yet to turn a profit under Trump’s ownership, according to The Washington Post.

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-California) inquired further about Simpson’s research. "If the Russians were laundering money through Trump golf courses or Trump condos, would the Russian Government be aware of this? Would they be either knowing or active participants potentially in this?"

Simpson explained that many of the ruling figures in Russia are connected to the government as well as to the mafia.

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