A third Kremlin-linked envoy at the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump’s top advisors in Trump Tower has been identified — and he has been investigated in a major money-laundering case.
Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze (pictured), named by US outlets on Tuesday, was alleged to have laundered more than $1.4 billion into the US from eastern Europe.
Kaveladze is a senior vice president at Crocus Group, the real estate development company of Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov — the Kremlin-connected business associate of Donald Trump Sr. and Donald Trump Jr. who helped arrange the Trump Tower encounter.
The executive accompanied Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, as well as a translator. Trump Jr. was joined by Donald Trump Sr.’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
In 2000, Kaveladze was named by the New York Times over the laundering of the $1.4 billion from Russia and Eastern Europe into accounts at two US banks.
A report by the US Government Accountability Office did not identify Kaveladze by name but confirmed his involvement as president of International Business Creations: “It is possible that these transfers were used to launder money.”
The GAO said IBC opened 236 bank accounts for corporations formed in Delaware on behalf of mostly Russian brokers. Its said Kaveladze had told officers of Citibank and the Commercial Bank of San Francisco that he had conducted investigations of the Russian companies for which he opened the accounts.
“He admitted to us that he made such representations to the banks but that he in fact had not investigated the companies,” the GAO said.
Criminal charges were never filed in the case.
The FBI has been investigating the possibility that Russian banks put money into the Trump campaign in 2016. In October, the agency obtained a warrant from the top-secret FISA Court which included inquiries into two Russian financial institutions.
Kaveladze’s lawyer Scott Balber insisted that the investigation in 2000 “from [Kaveladze’s] perspective…was a big nothing.”
But Carl Levin, then the senior Democrat on a Senate Investigations Subcommittee, said in a statement yesterday that Kaveladze was a “poster child” of the practice of using shell companies to launder funds.
“Kaveladze’s conduct helped us reinvigorate the requirement that banks know the true owner of their accounts, a policy that hadn’t been enforced over the years,” Levin said.
Denials of Kremlin Connection
Donald Trump Jr. — who denied in March that he had met any Russian official — said on July 8, hours after the revelation of the meeting with Veselnitskaya, that she and her translator were unaccompanied in a discussion about “adoptions”.
Three days later, the disclosure of Trump Jr.’s e-mail chain with a British intermediary established that the Russian offer of damaging information on Hillary Clinton was the main topic.
Balber said on Tuesday that his client is a long-time US citizen who has “never had any engagement with the Russian government in any capacity”.
Balber maintained the Trump Tower meeting was only about the Magnitsky Act, passed by Congress to sanction Russian human rights abuses, and Vladimir Putin’s retaliatory ban on adoption of Russian children by US parents: “There was absolutely no conversation between either [Aras] Agalarov and the Russian prosecutors or the Russian government about Hillary Clinton or the US campaign, ever. It didn’t happen.”
Balber said a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team asked over the weekend if Kaveladze would agree to be interviewed. Balber said his client would cooperate.