/ Flickr Trump executive Michael Cohen 010... / Flickr

Donald Trump’s failing real estate ‘empire’ was dragged back from bankruptcy by a series of unlikely deals with mysterious companies backed by Russian oligarchs. Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort made a tidy profit from a series of mysterious companies backed by Russian oligarchs. And now it seems that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was also on the list of those who turned big dollars in real estate from companies whose ownership is … mysterious.

While serving as a top executive at the Trump Organization for a decade, Cohen himself was a sometime New York real estate wheeler dealer whose companies appear to have netted as much as $20 million in profit by flipping properties to mysterious buyers..

Cohen made some staggeringly good deals. Like buying a building for $2 million and selling it for $10 million. And even better for Cohen, his mystery buyers paid in cash.

Cohen, who is still one of the president’s private lawyers, has drawn increasing scrutiny in recent months from federal investigators – three congressional committees and Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller – who are looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and whether any Trump associates were tied to it. Mueller is also examining evidence of possible Russian money-laundering in the United States.

Cohen is due to testify this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and his appearance may have something to do with why there’s suddenly been such a focus on the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele. Because Cohen makes a guest appearance in that dossier.

Cohen is also expected to face tough questions about allegations in a dossier compiled last year by an ex-British spy that he attended a secret meeting in Prague in late summer 2016 with some computer hackers and Russian operatives.

Cohen has denied making the trip. However, there are a few things the Senate committee might want to ask him about. Things like his letter to the Kremlin in which he made a little request to one of Putin’s top aides.

I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals.”

Or the documents that he delivered to Michael Flynn from some less-than-savory sources.

Cohen was also the intermediary who met with mafia-linked Trump business partner, Felix Sater and a Ukraine parliamentarian, Andrii Artemenko at the Loews Regency hotel in Manhattan in the first days of the Trump presidency. They were there to discuss Ukraine. Artemenko gave Cohen a sealed packet of documents to hand deliver to Michael Flynn, then still Trump’s National Security Advisor. Cohen did so, though he later claimed that he didn’t.

Or the multiple occasions Cohen refused to cooperate with Congress.

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, said on Tuesday that he was refusing to cooperate with House and Senate intelligence committee investigations into Russian election meddling. The move may prompt lawmakers to issue subpoenas, compelling him to provide documents, testimony or other records.

But they should definitely ask him about his incredible success at selling millions of dollars worth of real estate. To mystery companies. For cash. Because that’s not suspicious at all. 

Besides his Rivington Street property, he acquired three other apartment buildings in the same time period, buying them for a total of about $9 million in late 2012. He sold them two years later for a total of over $20 million, even though their assessed value had hardly changed. …

“[W]hat should raise red flags among money laundering experts are purchases way above the assessed value, combined with all cash purchases. These are potential fingerprints of money laundering,” said Louise Shelley, a professor at George Mason University and a specialist in money laundering, “But one needs to carefully investigate these patterns of behavior which, although they arouse suspicions, could be explained by market opportunities.”

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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