Russian Firm That Partnered On Trump’s Moscow Project Had A Shoddy Record

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
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The Russian developer President Donald Trump teamed up with in 2015 to try to build a tower in the heart of Moscow had a shoddy business record, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Longtime Trump associate Felix Sater brought the Trump Organization a proposal to license the President’s name to IC Expert, a firm that has been faulted in Moscow court rulings for missed deadlines and construction difficulties, according to the Journal. IC Expert is headed by Andrei Rozov, whom Sater had previously worked with.

People familiar with the proposal told the newspaper that both Donald Trump and Rozov signed a non-binding letter of intent to construct the project in October 2015, well after the presidential primary campaign got underway.

Rozov did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment, and a representative for IC Expert claimed to the newspaper that discussions for a Trump-branded project had never occurred. Yet a person familiar with the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election told the Journal that the letter of intent, which was among the documents that Trump’s longtime friend and former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, turned over to the committee this week, had Rozov’s name on it.

Sater confirmed his work on the project to the newspaper, saying he wanted to help Trump build “the tallest building in Moscow.”

This was the Trump Organization’s third attempt to do so. Trump and his adult children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, worked with Sater on an earlier Trump Moscow project in 2005. Trump also discussed a project in 2013 with Russian developer Aras Agalarov, who brought the Miss Universe pageant to Russia that year.

In a statement to the House panel obtained by the New York Times, Cohen said that he discussed the 2015 effort to build in Moscow with Trump three separate times, and had emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesman for assistance moving it forward. He and Sater also exchanged emails about their dual effort to get Trump elected and complete the project, but it ultimately went nowhere.

Signing a letter of intent with Rozov is just another example of the Trump Organization’s teaming up with developers and financiers with less-than-stellar records. Bloomberg reported Friday that mass protests are expected this weekend outside one IC Expert development on the outskirts of Moscow that residents say the company failed to construct on time, leaving them unable to move in.

Sater met Rozov when both men served on the board of a company run by Sergei Polonsky, a Russian property tycoon who earned billions from his real estate empire until the financial crisis landed him deep in debt, according to the Journal. Polonsky was recently found guilty of defrauding buyers in Russia, but did not serve his sentence of five years in prison because the statute of limitations had expired, per the report.

There’s no evidence Polonsky was involved in the Moscow project Sater and Cohen explored for the Trump Organization.

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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