On March 22, 2017 a Motion to Intervene, Second Circuit was filed by Forbes Media, LLC and Richard Behar in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Second Circuit. Behar is an award-winning journalist who serves as Forbes Magazine’s Contributing Editor of Investigations. The motion seeks to unseal to court records relating to the trial and conviction of Felix Sater on federal charges in 1998. In the preliminary statement, intervenors set forth cause,
“Through this motion, Forbes and Behar (together, “Intervenors”) seek to vindicate the public’s right of access to the record of this proceeding, which includes documents critical to understanding a story of pressing political consequence: President Donald Trump’s connection to Felix H. Sater, who is well known as a conduit to Russian oligarchs and organized crime.”
The statement goes on to note that Sater worked directly with Trump and his organization on real-estate projects around the world and that he maintained offices in Trump Tower. It is further noted that as of 2010 Sater carried a business card identifying him as a “senior adviser” to Donald Trump. However, it is noted that in 2013 Trump had testified that he wouldn’t recognize Sater if he were in the same room. But as multiple sources have indicated, there did in fact exist a close working relationship between the two men and that the relationship had been maintained over the course of years.
Forbes and Behar are seeking to unseal the court records involved in the prosecution and conviction of Felix Sater in 1998.
Biographical Information on Felix Sater
Born in 1966, Felix Mikhailovich Sheferovsky to Mikhail Sheferovsky, a Russian mafia underboss who worked directly for the notorious boss of all bosses in the Russian underworld, Semion Mogilevich. His family had emigrated to Israel when he was eight years old, citing religious persecution as the reason for their relocation. The family subsequently moved to the United States and Sheferovsky, who changed his name to Sater, grew up in Brooklyn, New York.
Sater moved in a variety of circles. He maintained close associations with organized crime organizations; Eastern European (Russian, Ukranian) and Italian-American. His associations involved a wide range of Russian and Ukranian oligarchs, some with direct ties to Vladimir Putin. He also developed and maintained a wide range of relationships with both foreign intelligence agencies and their respective corollaries in law enforcement, ranging from Russian GRU (military Intelligence) and FSB (the Russian Federation’s primary law enforcement agent) to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and various offices of the US intelligence community–including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
He has been the subject of multiple criminal investigations, including a aggravated assault and money laundering. In 1991 he was convicted for assault after he stabbed someone in the face with a broken wine glass in a bar dispute. In 1998 he was convicted on a variety of Federal charges, though the details of the case are unclear–thus the unsealing action sought by Forbes Media and Behar. It was during the course of these proceedings that he began working as an FBI informant.
In 2000, Operation Street Cleaner resulted in the arrest of 19 people, including a number of individuals with alleged mob ties. According to US law enforcement officials he proved a source of valuable information utilized after September, 2011 to go after members of Al-Qaeda. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who had served as US Attorney for the Eastern District at that time, testified during her confirmation hearings that, “providing information crucial to national security.”
His involvement in money laundering and a series of “pump-and-dump” schemes-which led to his indictment and conviction in 1998–finished him on Wall Street, so he turned to a less-regulated and watched arena, real-estate.
Bayrock Group, partnership with Tevfik Arif
Tevfik Arif, another Russian emigre, had served as a Soviet Official before also relocating to the United States. It was in 2000 that he and Sater teamed up and founded the Bayrock Group. Bayrock, ostensibly a property development and management group, served as a front for money laundering, racketeering and a variety of other financial scams, as future investigations and court proceedings would reveal.
In Kriss v. Bayrock plaintiffs sought injunctive relief from Arif, Sater and Schwarz, as principals of Bayrock, on a variety of counts. Suit was brought for “violations of its conspiracy provision and from all Defendants for violations of substantive, aid and abettance and conspiracy provisions of state law.” The suit further alleged, “almost everything they took from Bayrock, the $8,000,000 Sater took, the $4,000,000 Schwarz took, and the $15,000,000 Arif took, came from crime rather than legitimate profit.” The suit went on to elaborate Bayrock’s financial scam,
“Using artifices to defraud architected by Roberts & Holland and Duval and Stachenfeld in conspiracy with them, Arif, Sater and Schwarz arranged for up to $250,000,000 of Bayrock’s profit as the co-developer of Trump Soho to be laundered, untaxed, through a sham Delaware entituy to Iceland (and reportedly then Russia), intending to evade up to $100,000,000 of U.S. taxation.”
The Trump Organization’s Involvement with Bayrock
As previously noted, Sater had carried a business card from the Trump Organization which listed him as a “Senior Adviser” to Donald J. Trump. Sater and his affiliates maintained office space on the floor beneath Trump’s offices and during Bayrock’s run, Trump himself met with Sater on a regular basis.
Aside from the well-covered inter-connection between Sater, Arif and Trump, Bayrock showcased in the Trump Soho development, the company actively worked on Trump developments in Arizona and Florida. Despite our current President’s attempts to distance himself from Arif and Sater, the record is rather damning.
In 2010, Arif was taken into custody by Turkish authorities. He was charged with running a sex-traffic ring which used underage girls of Middle Eastern and Eastern European descent. Though subsequently acquitted in 2012, many ascribed his acquittal to corruption through the pay-offs of Turkish officials rather than to his innocence. During this time-frame he continued his relationship with Trump and the members of family and with the President himself.
President Trump’s Hollow Plaints About our Justice System
As the Trump-Russia investigations proceed the President’s plaints about our broken justice system should be taken seriously. Our President is lying, unabashedly. His ties to Russian oligarchs, criminals and officials are well-documented and of long duration. These ties are incontestable. His assertion that he wouldn’t be able to pick Sater out of a room full of people is utter bullshit.
Sater, Arif and their associates, to this day, roam free-as does our current President. Trump’s repeated misstatements and outright lies about his relationships and dealing with Russian financiers and criminals are unacceptable. While hundreds of thousands of non-violent drug offenders rot in prison for offenses far less egregious these scum-bags live opulent lives from the proceeds of those whom they have ripped off and our justice system does nothing about it. Trump and his incessant whining about Muslim and Mexican criminals should be contrasted against the enormity of the crimes perpetrated by the Russians in his immediate circle.
This ball of fetid yarn is unraveling. As the layers of corruption and misdeeds are peeled away all Americans should be hoping for one thing: that all of these scam artists ultimately get dragged and dumped into court dockets and are forced to face their transgressions. This includes the 45th President of the United States and more than one member of his family. It is our great hope that our justice system might yet rise to the occasion and put this whole crowd right where they belong–in a 6 X 10 Federal jail cell for many, many years. God only knows they all have it coming.
No one should—for one minute—take Trump’s repeated denials of Russian ties seriously. He is lying, without shame and without remorse. Our President represents the worst layer of excremental excrescence produced by a society of plutocrats who operate beyond the parameters of law and justice, with pugnacious impunity.