8th Person At Don Jr. Meeting Was Part Of Alleged Money Laundering Scheme

Facebook/Irakli Kaveladze
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The eighth attendee at a Trump Tower meeting last year that was billed as part of the Russian government’s efforts to help the Trump campaign was accused of having a pivotal role in a large-scale alleged scheme to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars in Russian money through U.S. banks in the 1990s.

A New York Times report published in 2000 identified a Georgian immigrant named Irakly Kaveladze as a key player in an alleged $1.4 billion money laundering plot uncovered by what was then known as the General Accounting Office. Over $800 million in foreign cash passed through 136 accounts Kaveladze opened for Russian clients, according to a report GAO produced on its investigation. While the GAO report did not name Kaveladze, he told the New York Times that he helped set up Delaware corporations and open scores of bank accounts for Russian nationals.

A lawyer representing Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze confirmed to the Washington Post on Tuesday that his client was the same individual involved. The attorney, Scott Balber, also confirmed to the Post and the Los Angeles Times thatKaveladze attended a meeting in June 2016 with Donald Trump, Jr. and two others from the campaign, then-chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. Also in attendance were music publicist Rob Goldstone; Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-linked lawyer; Rinat Akhmetshin, a longtime D.C. lobbyist allegedly connected to Russian military intelligence; and a translator, Anatoli Samochornov.

Kaveladze attended the meeting on behalf of Aras and Emin Agalarov, Russian real estate barons close to the Trump Organization who helped to bring Trump’s Miss Universe beauty pageant to Moscow in 2013, Balber, confirmed to news outlets. Goldstone, who arranged the meeting, works as a publicist for Emin Agalarov, who is an aspiring pop singer.

Biographical details for the Kaveladze featured in the old New York Times report and the Kaveladze who attended the Trump Tower meeting last year largely match up, although there is one discrepancy: Age. The Times report on the alleged money-laundering scheme stated that Kaveladze was born in 1960, which would make him 57; reports on the meeting with Trump Jr. state that Kaveladze is 52.

Kaveladze did not respond to multiple requests for comment via email, and Balber did not immediately return a request for comment from TPM.

Kaveladze’s professional ties to the Agalarovs date back to at least 2004, when they hired him to work at Crocus Group, their Moscow-based real estate development firm. Kaveladze’s LinkedIn says he was promoted to Vice President in 2009, meaning he was a member of senior staff when the company organized Miss Universe 2013 for the Agalarovs and Trump.

A grainy video still from the time unearthed by CNN shows Kaveladze standing behind Emin Agalarov as Trump holds forth with a person off-camera. CNN said the image came from a “private 2013 dinner.”

His work for Crocus Group entails overseeing “commercial and residential real estate as well as international project structuring,” according to one of two Twitter accounts that bear his name. The account appears to have been hacked in September 2016 and is now filled with articles about celebrity makeup tips and sports.

Kevaladze’s job requires frequent visits abroad, including August and September 2016 trips to Moscow, according to his Facebook page. The majority of his posts are photos of the beach near his Huntington, California home, of his Weimeraner Lola, of him biking in various European capitals, and of clouds taken from airplane windows during his foreign trips.

Though Kaveladze’s LinkedIn lists no professional posts prior to his role at Crocus Group, Balber, his attorney, confirmed to the Post that he previously served as president of a Delaware company calledInternational Business Creations—the subject of the GAO investigation.

Balber told the Post that Kaveladze was charged with no crime as a result of that probe, and that “There has never been any indication that he did anything wrong.”

Kaveladze has himself batted down allegations of wrongdoing since the Times first identified him in the money-laundering probe in 2000. Using a phrase that would be embraced by the Trump administration years later, he described the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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