The FBI is investigating suspicious bank transfers made after Trump campaign officials met in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
The transfers involved money from Russia and Switzerland being moved to places like the British Virgin Islands, Bangkok and New Jersey, Buzzfeed News reported Wednesday.
Two groups of transactions are being investigated, four federal law enforcement officials told Buzzfeed. One happened shortly after the Trump Tower meeting and the other right after the 2016 presidential election.
Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer close to both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, reportedly used foreign bank accounts to send money to himself, his son, and at least two people who attended the Trump Tower meeting. Only 11 days after the June 9 meeting, an offshore company controlled by Agalarov wired $19.5 million to his New York bank account.
Soon after Trump’s election, the Agalarov family began sending a total of $1.2 million from their bank in Russia to a checking account in New Jersey controlled by the billionaire’s son, pop singer Emin Agalarov, and two of his friends. Bankers found it strange that the account hadn’t been used since the summer of 2015 but became much more active after Trump’s victory, so they forwarded suspicious-activity reports to the FBI.
That account sent money to a company controlled by Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, an associate of the Agalarovs who was at the Trump Tower meeting, Buzzfeed reported. Kaveladze owns a company that bankrolls a music business founded by the person who set up the meeting, Emin Agalarov’s publicist Rob Goldstone.
An attorney for the Agalarovs and Kaveladze told BuzzFeed there’s nothing to see here. “I’m actually perplexed why anybody is interested in this or why anybody in their right mind would treat this as suspicious,” said Scott Balber. “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.”
The FBI used similar suspicious-activity reports to arrest former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was convicted on eight felony counts of bank fraud and tax fraud, among other charges.