Donald Trump in 2005 toasted a Russian real estate developer with alleged ties to organized crime as his “friend,” according to a report published on Tuesday by McClatchy.
Trump made a video conference call to real estate developer Tofik Arifov on the occasion of Arifov’s birthday in 2005, according to McClatchy’s report.
“Tofik is my friend!” Trump said, as quoted in the report. “Let’s toast Tofik!”
Arifov and another person present at his 2005 birthday party, Alexander Mashkevich, have been alleged to have ties to organized crime, according to the report.
McClatchy cited sealed documents about Russian organized criminal groups it obtained “that were part of a British lawsuit involving several Russians.”
“We have nothing for you at this time,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie A. Grisham told TPM in an email.
Arifov, a former Soviet official, co-founded Bayrock, a New York property developer based in Trump Tower. Trump partnered with Bayrock to build Trump SoHo, a hotel-condominium in New York City. Bayrock listed Mashkevich in a 2007 presentation as a “source of financing” for Trump development projects, including Trump SoHo.
In March, USA Today reported that Trump’s companies have been linked to “at least 10 former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering,” and included Mashkevich (and Arifov by association, under the name Tevfik Arif) on its list.