This is one of those “Could be nothing – slash – could be a lot of something” moments in the ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
At the very least, this is enough to raise suspicions.
Buzzfeed News broke the story earlier Wednesday, regarding suspicious financial activity tied to some of the participants in the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
According to secret documents obtained by Buzzfeed, there were several transactions made through a complicated criss-crossing of financial institutions.
They involve money from Russia and Switzerland being moved to places such as the British Virgin Islands, Bangkok and New Jersey, according to BuzzFeed.
Four federal law enforcement officers told the news outlet that investigators are specifically looking into two bursts of transactions that bank examiners found suspicious.
Follow the money.
The first “odd” financial shuffle happened about eleven days after the Trump Tower meeting, where Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump son-in-law (and now senior adviser) Jared Kushner, a Kremlin-linked attorney, and several Russian officials met to discuss “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, according to initial emails.
The second transaction happened just after Donald Trump’s election.
In the first, an offshore company controlled by Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump, wired almost $20 million to his own account at a New York bank, according to BuzzFeed.
The second burst happened when Agalarov transferred $1.2 million from the Agalarov family bank in Russia to an account in New Jersey controlled by his son, Emin Agalarov.
Could be nothing?
What makes these transactions stand out is the timing.
The account in New Jersey had apparently sat dormant, with no discernible activity, since 2015.
So Trump gets elected and the son of a Russian oligarch gets a sudden cash injection into his American bank account.
The New Jersey account reportedly also sent money to a company controlled by Irakly Kaveladze. Kaveladze is a longtime associate of theirs and represented the family at the Trump Tower meeting, BuzzFeed reported.It additionally noted that Kaveladze’s company funded a music business launched by Rob Goldstone, Emin Agalarov’s British publicist, who first pitched the Trump Tower meeting.
Rob Goldstone is the mutual friend of the Trump’s and Agalarov, who sent the email to Donald Trump Jr., telling him that the Russian government had dirt on Hillary Clinton and wanted to help his dad’s campaign, to which Trump Jr. replied, “If it’s what you say it is, I love it!”
Speculation over the purpose of the transactions could go either way, depending on what your feelings are about the investigation and the Trump family, overall. Attorney’s for the Agalarov family and Kaveladze, however, waved off the reports as hogwash.
“I’m actually perplexed why anybody is interested in this or why anybody in their right mind would treat this as suspicious,” Scott Balber, an attorney representing the Agalarovs and Kaveladze, told BuzzFeed. “These are all transactions either between one of Mr. Agalarov’s accounts and another of Mr. Agalarov’s accounts or one of Mr. Agalarov’s accounts and an account in the name of one of his employees.”
It’s not that the transactions were made. It’s the timing and possible purpose of the transactions that seems to have people twisted.
The transactions were discovered and reported by the financial institutions, after law enforcement authorities asked them to sift through the records of those involved in the Russia probe and report on anything that struck them as sketchy.
What they found was turned over to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
So will anything come of all this?
It’s hard to say. This could be the epitome of a “nothingburger,” but then again…