Hours before Jared Kushner stepped out to a podium in front of the White House on Monday and said he has never “relied on Russian funds” for his businesses, The Guardian reported that he made a deal with a real estate mogul linked to a Russian firm accused in a multimillion-dollar money laundering scheme.
The President’s son-in-law and senior adviser paid $295 million in 2015 to acquire several floors of a Manhattan office tower from the U.S. branch of a company owned by the Soviet-born Israeli businessman Lev Leviev. Kushner entered into an agreement with Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments (AFI) to purchase the floors of the old New York Times building.
According to the Guardian, AFI was cited as a business partner of Russian-owned real estate company Prevezon Holdings in a lawsuit alleging that Prevezon laundered millions of dollars through Manhattan real estate. Kushner and Leviev did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.
A month before Election Day, Kushner also took out a $285 million loan from Deutsche Bank as part of a refinancing package for that some property—a transaction now under scrutiny by federal investigators looking into both Kushner and the President’s finances.
A link between Prevezon and the Trump campaign came to light via a recently uncovered June 2016 meeting that had been billed to Donald Trump Jr., the President’s eldest son, as an opportunity to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign. Kushner attended the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Russian lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, both of whom worked for Prevezon’s owner, Denis Katsyv.
Prevezon was accused of trying to use Manhattan properties to launder money stolen from the Russian treasury. Whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky uncovered the alleged scheme, and subsequently died in a Moscow prison under mysterious circumstances. Akhmetshin and Veselnitskaya have lobbied heavily on Katsyv’s behalf against the U.S. sanctions bill that carries Magnitsky’s name, as TPM previously reported. They have also pushed for the reinstatement of a program that allowed U.S. citizens to adopt Russian children, which was abolished by Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to the Magnitsky Act.
Kushner said in his written statement that he knew nothing of the June meeting’s purpose or participants ahead of time, and that he skipped out early after deciding it was a “waste of time.” His attendance at the meeting as well as his business dealings are among the areas of interest of federal and congressional investigators probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The U.S. settled its case against Prevezon and associated companies in May for a scant $6 million.