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Waters and Ranking Members Press Mnuchin to Provide Documents on Trump’s and Trump Associates’ Financial Ties to Russia

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Washington, DC, December 8, 2017 | comments

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI), Vice Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade, Congressman Al Green (D-TX), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, following up on their previous inquiry and demanding that Mnuchin cooperate with the Financial Services Committee in determining the extent of any undue influence on the President and his Administration from Russian government officials, oligarchs, and organized crime leaders.

“It is unfortunate that despite the constant revelations about this Administration, you continue to refuse to provide us with records relating to potential money laundering violations by Russian persons and the Trump Organization, including violations involving Trump-licensed properties, which we requested in May,” the lawmakers wrote. “It seems to be clear to everyone but you that these continuing revelations demand immediate attention. Accordingly, we demand that you do your job and provide this Committee with all records originally requested in our letter…”

The letter highlights two items that demonstrate the importance of the Treasury Department’s full compliance with the lawmakers’ requests: the recent revelations about Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s previously undisclosed financial dealings in the Paradise Papers, and a recent report by Global Witness which found that President Trump licensed his name to a Panamanian real estate development used to launder illicit Russian money and the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.

The group of lawmakers first wrote to Secretary Mnuchin in May to request that Treasury provide any records to the Committee that detail President Trump’s financial ties to Russia, as well as those of his family members and associates. In July, the group of lawmakers introduced a Resolution of Inquiry (ROI) directing Mnuchin to provide Congress with documents from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) regarding the financial and business dealings of President Trump, his family members, and his associates. The measure was blocked by Committee Republicans.

The Ranking Members have written a series of letters— two to Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, one to Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan, one to Deutsche Bank’s external counsel, and one to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin — requesting their cooperation in efforts to learn the full scope of Russian influence on this Administration. To date, none of the recipients have cooperated with these requests.

Last week, Ranking Member Waters wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to request information on the status of the Department of Justice’s investigation into Deutsche Bank’s Russian mirror trading scheme, Attorney General Session’s involvement in the investigation, and whether President Trump or his family members or associates have sought to influence the investigation. In July, Ranking Member Waters wrote to Sessions to demand his immediate recusal from any Department of Justice investigation into Deutsche Bank’s Russian mirror trading scheme and any investigation into any loans Deutsche Bank provided to President Trump or his immediate family members.

The full letter to Secretary Mnuchin is below:

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Mnuchin:

On May 23, 2017, we sent you a written request for financial intelligence data housed within the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Department”) to assist the Financial Services Committee (“Committee”) in determining “the extent of any undue influence on the President and his Administration from Russian government officials, oligarchs, and organized crime leaders.”[1] Additionally, on July 27, 2017, you appeared before the Committee and were asked repeatedly to provide the information requested in our letter. Your response–that we should obtain such documentation from the three other Congressional committees looking into the matter–was, and remains, unacceptable. Since your testimony, as we predicted, a number of previously undisclosed business connections between the President, members of his Administration, and influential, wealthy Russians, many of whom have direct ties to Vladimir Putin, have come to light. It bears repeating that the Department’s responsibility as the Financial Intelligence Unit of the U.S. places you, as Secretary, in the unique position of being able to assist Congress in assessing the extent of the Administration’s financial entanglements with Russia–especially given the fact that these arrangements are not being readily disclosed by members of the Administration.

Two recent events demonstrate the importance of your full cooperation with our requests.

First, the “Paradise Papers,” published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (“ICIJ”), recently revealed that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed to appropriately disclose during his confirmation process his substantial business relationship to close Putin allies. According to the ICIJ, Secretary Ross maintains a financial stake in offshore companies that control a 31.5 percent investment in Navigator Holdings (“Navigator”). Navigator, a shipping company incorporated in the Marshall Islands,[2] regularly transports liquefied petroleum gas for one of its largest clients, Sibur, a Russian gas and petrochemical company owned in part by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, and Russian oligarch Gennady Timchenko, who is currently sanctioned by the Department.[3] In the past three years, Navigator has received more than $68 million in revenue from Sibur.[4]

Secretary Ross’ ownership stake in Navigator presents a clear conflict of interest. According to the ICIJ, Mr. Ross has “the power to influence U.S. trade, sanctions and other matters that could affect Sibur’s owners.” If, for example, the decision to sanction Sibur was to cross Secretary Ross’ desk, the fact that he has directly profited from, and could stand to further profit from, the business Sibur maintains with Navigator may prevent him from making an objective determination.

Second, a recent report by Global Witness, a non-profit dedicated to exposing corruption, found that President Trump licensed his name to a Panamanian real estate development used to launder illicit Russian money and the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.[5] According to the report, Trump stood to reap a handsome profit from this licensing deal. He received not only a percentage of the financing he helped secure, but a cut from every unit sold, along with management fees. By 2010, Trump stood to gain as much as $74.5 million through these arrangements.

According to the report, many of the early investors in the development, known as the Trump Ocean Club, were Russian. Moreover, one of the development’s primary brokers, Ventura Nogueira, who brokered nearly a third of the development’s pre-construction unit sales stated that “50 percent of his buyers were Russian, and that some had ‘questionable backgrounds.’ He added that he found out later that some were part of the Russian Mafia.”

This aligns with the concerns we raised to you six months ago when we alerted you to the fact that despite Trump’s continuous claims to the contrary, his son Eric Trump had bragged that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” adding that “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”[6]

It is unfortunate that despite the constant revelations about this Administration, you continue to refuse to provide us with records relating to potential money laundering violations by Russian persons and the Trump Organization, including violations involving Trump-licensed properties, which we requested in May. It seems to be clear to everyone but you that these continuing revelations demand immediate attention.

Accordingly, we demand that you do your job and provide this Committee with all records originally requested in our letter dated May 23, 2017 by no later than December 15, 2017.

Sincerely,


The Honorable Maxine Waters
Ranking Member

The Honorable Daniel T. Kildee
Vice Ranking Member

The Honorable Gwen Moore
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade
Ed Perlmutter

The Honorable Al Green
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

The Honorable Ed Perlmutter
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance

________________________________________
[1]Ranking Member Waters, Vice Chair Kildee, Ranking Member Moore, Ranking Member Green, Ranking Member Perlmutter, Letter to Secretary Mnuchin, (May 23, 2017) available at https://democrats-financialservices.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=400482
[2] Valencia, Robert. Commerce Secretary Has Links to Venezuela Oil Giant, Despite U.S. Sanctions, Nov. 6, 2017. http://www.newsweek.com/paradise-papers-show-links-between-trumps-secretary-commerce-and-venezuelas-703496
[3] McIntire, Mike, et. al. Commerce Secretary’s Offshore Ties to Putin ‘Cronies,’ Nov. 5. 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/05/world/wilbur-ross-russia.html
[4] https://www.occrp.org/en/paradisepapers/general-offshore-trove-exposes-trump-russia-links-and-piggy-banks-of-the-wealthiest-1-percent
[5] https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/corruption-and-money-laundering/narco-a-lago-panama/
[6] Tom Hamburger, et al., Inside Trump’s Financial Ties to Russia and His Unusual Flattery of Vladimir Putin, (June 17, 2016), available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/inside-trumps-financial-ties-to-russia-and-his-unusual-flattery-of-vladimir-putin/2016/06/17/dbdcaac8-31a6-11e6-8ff7-7b6c1998b7a0_story.html?utm_term=.86575256266c 


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