The Cyprus Connection
Cyprus is the only EU country that has given the Russia military and Navy the right to freely use their bases for operations. It is also a tax haven and money laundering center serving Russian oligarchs, and home to many shell companies. Trump has two such companies in Cyprus. One of them, Trump Construction Co. Ltd, was opened in 2008, during the height of the Great Recession financial crisis. The Cyprus connection ties several of the players in the Trump campaign’s Russian ties scandal together at one very shady institution on this Mediterranean island.
Putin’s Ties to Cyprus
As the New York Times reported, Russian state intelligence agencies are operating on the island which is bathed in Russian culture, and has the same Orthodox Christian faith as practiced in the Russia. The Guardian identified Cyprus as a conduit in Vladimir Putin’s global cash flow schemes, a place where ownership is placed, then loaned to companies in Russia at favorable terms without repayment. Putin’s role in Cyprus was further exposed by the release of the Panama Papers. That leak detailed the relationship between government corruption and banking centers involved in money laundering money for Putin. In 201o the Cyprus bank sector relied on Vladimir Putin to bail out the country, after a power plant failure threatened to bankrupt the island with a 2.5 billion euro loan in 2011. Putin was seeking to protect $10 billion dollars in Russian deposits.
Wilbur Ross’ Ties to Cyprus
As Mother Jones reported, Wilbur Ross has deep ties to Cyprus, its largest bank and his big gamble on the ability to extract the island’s off-shore natural gas reserves. Trump’s Commerce Secretary, Wilbur is the Vice-Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus. Ross invested $500 million into the bank run by an ex-KGB friend of Putin. It was at Wilber Ross’ suggestion that Josef Ackermann, the former Chairman of Deutsche Bank. Ackermann oversaw Deutsche Bank as it laundered $10 billion dollars in transactions for Russian oligarchs, including relatives of Putin. money laundering. Deutsche Bank is also one of Trump’s major creditors. Wilbur Ross is also the person who introduced Paul Manafort to Trump, and recommended him to be his campaign manager.
Rybolovlev’s Ties to Trump, Ross & Cyprus
As CNN reported Trump was asked about Russia ties in July 2016, because of speculation that Russia was behind the hack of DNC emails in an effort to help his campaign. In Doral, FL he told a reporter, “No, I have nothing to do with Russia. How many times do I have say that? Are you a smart man? I have nothing to with Russia, I have nothing to do with Russia.” Then Trump then acknowledged: There was that one time. “What do I have to do with Russia? You know the closest I came to Russia, I bought a house a number of years ago in Palm Beach, Florida… for $40 million and I sold it to a Russian for $100 million including brokerage commissions.”
The deal he was admitting to at that time was the sale of Maison de L’Amitie, a beachfront estate in Palm Beach, Florida. In a 2004 auction, Trump bought the property in a bankruptcy sale for $41 million. Four years later, with the real estate market collapsing, Trump sold the mansion for $95 million. Although the official deed showed County Road Property LLC as the buyer, it was just a front. The real buyer of the property was Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. Carol Digges, the South Florida broker who gave Rybolovlev a tour of the luxurious estate two years before he bought it, told CNN Money that the Russian billionaire never moved in.
Trump’s deal with Rybolovlev raises at lot of questions, not only because he never used or rented the property. According to real estate valuations at the time, Rybolovlev grossly over-paid for the property. This lead to speculation of money laundering, or a payment for some other secretive deal with Trump. Rybolovlev was trying to move as much of his money as possible out of Russia because he was in the middle of a divorce. He is also a major share holder of Bank of Cyprus.
So the guy responsible for the money laundering at Deutsche Bank is now the Chairman of the Board of Bank of Cyprus and the largest shareholder and Vice-Chairman is Wilbur Ross, who just became Trump’s Commerce Secretary. Another major shareholder in the bank is Rybolovlev, with close ties to Putin, who laundered money through Trump’s property in FL.
In December the Huffington Post reported that Donald Trump could have other financial interests at stake in his relationship to Ross, Russia, or Vladimir Putin by the existence of his two companies in a small island nation.