Report: Russian bank whose CEO met secretly with Jared Kushner helped finance Trump’s Toronto hotel – Business Insider


trump
From
left: Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Eric
Trump.

Mike
Cassese/Reuters


A Russian state-owned bank under US sanctions, whose CEO met with
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law in December, helped financed
the construction of the president’s 65-story Trump International
Hotel and Tower in Toronto, according to a new report.

The bank, Vnesheconombank, or VEB, bought $850 million of stock
in a Ukrainian steelmaker from the billionaire Russian-Canadian
developer Alexander Shnaider, who was constructing the hotel at
the time, The Wall Street Journal
reported
on Wednesday.

Shnaider initially purchased the stock via his company, Midland
Resources Holding, for about $70 million after the collapse of
the Soviet Union, according to The Journal.

The money from the sale of that stock to VEB — which The Journal
said went through while Russian President Vladimir Putin was
chairman of VEB’s supervisory board — was used to help finance
the construction of the Toronto hotel “at a key moment for the
project.”

From the Journal:

“After Mr. Shnaider and his partner sold their stake in the
steelmaker, Mr. Shnaider injected more money into the Trump
Toronto project, which was financially troubled. Mr. Shnaider’s
lawyer, Symon Zucker, said in an April interview that about $15
million from the asset sale went into the Trump Toronto project.
A day later, he wrote in an email: ‘I am not able to confirm that
any funds’ from the deal ‘went into the Toronto project.'”

Zucker, Shnaider’s lawyer, told The Journal that Midland
Resources “has never had any relationship with VEB” and “does not
dictate where their purchasers borrow funds.” He told Business
Insider that the Journal ” got their facts all wrong.”


trump toronto
Toronto
police place construction cones around the Trump International
Hotel and Tower in Toronto, Ontario, in March
2012.

Hyungwon
Kang/Reuters


“Trump was never a partner,” Zucker said. “He never had an
equity interest. We licensed his name and there was a contract
for him to manage the hotel.”

The Trump Organization has distanced itself from the Toronto
project, which faced financial
difficulties
last year. The organization “merely licensed its
brand and manages the hotel and residences,” it told The Journal
in a statement.

The project was initially a joint venture between Trump and
Shnaider, who approached Trump in
2004
asking to license the Trump name for the 65-story tower.
Trump said at the time that he would “manage the hotel’s
operations,” according to The Journal, while Shnaider and his
business partner, Val Levitan, would focus on the development.

Additionally, Zucker claimed, “we had nothing to do with
VEB… the infusion of cash [into the hotel] didn’t come
from the Russians — Alex [Shnaider] borrowed $350 million from
an Austrian bank and invested some of his own” into the
project.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a top White House adviser,
met with the Vnesheconombank CEO Sergey Gorkov in December, The
New York Times reported in late
March
. Putin appointed Gorkov in January 2016 as part of a
restructuring of the bank’s management team, according to
Bloomberg.

At the time, Kushner was trying to find investors for an office
building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.


trump toronto
Members
of the Trump family at the hotel’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in
April 2012.

Mike
Cassese/Reuters


Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, told The Times that Gorkov
and Kushner didn’t discuss the Kushner Tower
project, and a White House official said in a statement that
Kushner met with Gorkov as part of his role as “the official
primary point of contact with foreign governments and officials.”

But the meeting was
reportedly orchestrated
by Russia’s ambassador to the US,
Sergey Kislyak, who also met with Kushner in December, and it
caught the eye of
the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has invited Kushner to
testify about his meetings with Gorkov and Kislyak. The committee
is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and
whether any members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian
officials.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared
to signal during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee
earlier this month that the intelligence community was
scrutinizing Trump’s business ties to Russia.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary
subcommittee on crime and terror, asked Clapper if he
ever found “a situation where a Trump business interest in
Russia” gave him “concern.”

“Not in the course of the preparation of the intelligence
community’s assessment,” Clapper said.

Graham pressed Clapper on whether he had ever come across such a
situation, to which Clapper replied, “I can’t comment on that
because that impacts an investigation.”

As Trump praised and defended Putin along the campaign trail,
many questioned whether the real-estate mogul had any financial
incentives — including business ties or outstanding debt — to
seek better relations with Moscow.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for
comment.

This article has been updated to include comments from Symon
Zucker.

Report: Russian bank whose CEO met secretly with Jared Kushner helped finance Trump’s Toronto hotel – Business Insider}

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