Trump Tower Chicago: Media fraud, Mob contractors, casinos and shady investors
Alex Jones’ “InfoWars” is now broadcasting from the top of Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.
Late last year, Matt Dubiel, a local Chicago radio station owner, announced he’d won FCC approval and had “worked out an arrangement with the Trump Tower” to secure a transmitter on its roof.
Dubiel said that as soon as Trump was elected, the FCC fast-tracked his permit. “InfoWars” will now reach a much larger audience of Chicagoland AM/FM listeners. Jones admits its all part of a larger plan for “warring against the globalists. Defending ourselves…and expanding.”
In May, Jones announced he was under “criminal espionage investigation.” Nearly a year earlier, it was revealed that the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division was investigating Breitbart News and InfoWars’ news sites for potentially working with Russian operatives in coordinated bot attacks.
Media expansion was also Lord Conrad Black’s reason for buying into Chicago.
In 1994, Black and his American Publishing Company agreed to buy the Chicago Sun-Times for $180 million. American, which had reported net losses the two previous years, went public a month later and raised $100 million for the purchase. It also changed its name to Hollinger International. At the time, Black’s media empire owned 340 newspapers across the globe.
Black and David Radler, the Sun-Times Publisher and Hollinger’s president and COO, cut the newsroom staff by 20% from 2000–2004. They artificially inflated circulation numbers by at least 45,000 newspapers a day, which amounted to million$ in over-billing of advertisers. They also forced a much more conservative slant on the editorial page.
The two were also found to have given “themselves and their affiliates more than $400 million” from 1997–2003. That amount represented 95.2% of Hollinger’s entire adjusted net income during that time.
In 2001, Trump and Hollinger announced a 50–50 venture to demolish the Sun-Times building and build Trump Tower Chicago.
Black and Trump have been friends for decades. Black thinks Mueller’s investigation of Trump “conspiring against the United States is nonsense, and the whole ambiance of the investigation now is that of a phantom consolation prize for the absence of a crime, a victim, or a culprit…” In May, Black released his Trump biography titled “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.”
The year before Black bought the Sun-Times, Trump was 30 miles south in Gary, IN negotiating with local officials for one of only two Gary casino licenses. At the time, all three of his Atlantic City casinos were $1.5 billion in debt.
He promised the Trump Princess Casino would have more than 1,500 slot machines and earn $210 million by the fifth year the casino was operating. Gary was told to expect $19 million annually. He committed to invest $153 million in the project.
Trump was rejected by the local gaming commission but he went to the Indiana Gaming Commission and was awarded a license.
In 1995, he established Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (THCR), which took ownership of Trump Plaza and Trump Princess Casino. The riverboat opened in1996. Trump’s 41% stake in THCR at that point was worth close to $400 million. In 1998, he opened a 300-room hotel next to the casino. He also brought the Miss USA Pageant to Gary in 2001 and 2002.
THCR recorded net losses of $321 million from 1996 to 2000. When it debuted on NYSE, it raised $140 million and said it would use the funds to invest in Trump Plaza and Trump Princess Casino. Instead, most went to pay off millions in previous loans Trump had personally guaranteed.
In 2004, THCR filed for bankruptcy and changed its name to Trump Entertainment Resorts (TER). The next year it sold the Gary casino and hotel for $253 million.
At the time, Bovis Lendlease was the №2 creditor of TER, with a $7.5 million unsecured claim.
Trump Tower Chicago is the tallest reinforced concrete structure in North America. Trump was a pioneer in the 1990s for using reinforced-concrete to build tall buildings. His tower on NY’s Fifth Avenue was the first high-rise in New York City to use reinforced concrete.
New York’s five major crime families — Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese — were called the Commission (or the “Two Percent Club”). They rigged bidding on concrete-construction work so the big jobs were rotated among the Concrete Club — a small group of Mob-controlled contractors and suppliers.
Lendlease was a general contractor on some of those jobs. It was also the general contractor on Trump Tower Chicago.
The property is owned by Trump’s shell company 401 North Wabash Venture. It, in turn, is owned by 401 Mezz Venture. Ivanka is listed as the vice president of both. Trump Jr. is the executive vice president of Trump Tower Chicago and acquisitions for the Trump Organization.
By 2004, Trump claimed he’d personally sold so many units that neighborhood property values were already going up. He said he had “agreements to sell three-fourths of the 461 condominiums and 227 hotel-condo units for a combined $515 million.”
Later that year, Trump announced he would purchase the full interest in the joint venture between himself and Hollinger. Hollinger received $4 million in cash with the balance of $69 million in cash received at closing.
There were two main loans to get the tower built. These are the loans that are being investigated by Mueller’s team for possibly having a portion of them sold to a Russian bank. In December of last year, Mueller issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank forcing it to submit documents regarding its relationship with the Trump family’s finances.
Since 1998, Deutsche Bank has led or participated in loans totaling at least $2.5 billion to Trump companies.
The $640 million construction loan was provided to Trump in 2005. Deutsche Bank pooled a group of 21 investors (two of which couldn’t be found) to fund the loan:
1 — Bank of Communications (BoCom) was caught last year with a group of other Chinese banks processing hundreds of million$ in a large money-laundering operation run by the Russian Mob. BoCom was found to have accepted $64 million in laundered funds.
From 2011–2014, $20–$80 billion was moved out of 19 Russia banks and into 732 banks in 92 countries. The Russian Mob-run operation was called “The Global Laundromat.” More than 10% of those were Chinese financial institutions.
The Mob used branches of HSBC and other banks to buy legitimate goods and services worth $630 million. HSBC has a 19% stake in BoCom. In December 2012, HSBC admitted to money laundering and sanctions violations and paid $1.25 billion in fines. It paid another $665 million in civil penalties.
2 — Istar Financial is a New York-based real estate investment trust. It was also a lender in Trump Soho. It took over the ownership of Trump Plaza Jersey City in 2010. That year, iStar, Donald and Ivanka Trump were named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by Jody Kriss, a former partner at the Bayrock Group. Bayrock’s other partners include Mob affiliate/government informant Felix Slater and Tevfik Arif, previously employed by the Soviet Union Ministry of Commerce and Trade for 17 years.
Kriss claimed in numerous lawsuits against Bayrock that its business structure was purposefully created to skirt certain NY real estate laws. He also accused Slater of taking “loans” from Bayrock in lieu of a salary and then never paying taxes on the loans or ever paying back the “loans.”
There’s an “Istar Holdings Limited” in the Panama Papers whose listed shareholder is John Wortley-Hunt. In 2016, Bill Browder testified to British Parliament about the Klyuev Money Laundering Network. Sergei Magnitsky had uncovered at least $230 million that was stolen from Russia and laundered through various international banks. (It was the largest known tax refund fraud in modern Russian history.)
Wortley-Hunt was a director of shell companies that were used to launder some of the funds in the U.K. In particular, he was director of Altem Invest Ltd, which was owned by Klyuev.
3 — Norddeutsche Landesbank Hahn is a New York branch of a German bank. During the year Deutsche provided the loan to Trump, Landesbank partnered with DnB NOR (now DNB ASA), Norway’s largest financial services group, to become the NORD/LB bank. In 2005, DnB Nor acquired Monchebank, a small regional Russian bank, for its licenses. Monchebank was owned by the Moscow-based Rosbank, a Russian universal bank whose majority shareholder is Société Générale. In May 2012, Rosbank reached an agreement with Alfa Bank to unite their ATM networks. In 2014, the US and EU imposed sanctions on Rosbank for money laundering.
4 — Deutsche Hypotheken Bank, a German commercial and mortgage bank, is owned by NordLB.
5 — AIB Debt Management, an affiliate of Dublin, Ireland-based Allied Irish Bank (AIB). In 2017, the Ireland Central Bank fined AIB $2.65 million for not complying with “anti-money laundering and terrorist financing reporting procedures.”
In March, it was revealed that nearly $3 million of a $230 million tax refund fraud run by the Russian Mob in partner with corrupt Russian tax officials, was washed through AIB banks.
6 — Oak Hill Funds, a private-equity firm based in New York, was started by Texas multimillionaire Robert Bass in 1986. Two years later, he and the Aoki Corporation of Japan sold NYC’s Plaza Hotel to Donald Trump for $390 million. Four years after that, Trump lost the hotel in bankruptcy.
In 2010, Oak Hill, along with Cinven and CVC Capital Partners, invested $750 million in Avolon, an aircraft leasing group, that operates in China, the UAE, the U.S., Russia and Western Europe. Avalon was created in 2014 in the Cayman Islands. Oak Hill Capital partners is a corporate affiliate of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2007, The New York Times Company agreed to sell it’s nine television stations to Oak Hill Capital Partners for $575 million.
7 — Bank of East Asia Ltd. (BEA), a Hong Kong-based commercial and retail bank with an office in New York. It was sued by billionaire Paul Singer’s hedge fund Elliot Management Corp. claiming it was an “under-performer, poorly managed and functioning as a ‘private fiefdom.’” Singer owns 7% of BEA.
He’s also a large financial backer of The Free Beacon, a popular conservative website. The Free Beacon was the entity that first hired Fusion GPS in 2015 to find information about several GOP presidential candidates, including Trump.
Elliot Management has made more than $42 million by betting on private prison stocks before Trump was elected.
The BEA is connected to the BEA Pacific Holding Company Limited in the Panama Papers.
8 — Fortress Credit Corp., an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, was co-founded by Wes Edens, a private equity investor and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. Edens, with Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris, recently purchased a majority stake in Aston Villa, an English soccer team. Fortress Investment Group was sold to SoftBank for $3.3 billion in 2017.
There are currently eight different Fortress Investment funds listed in the Panama Papers. All except one were created in Delaware. Most are related to Aircastle Investment. Fortress Bank pooled the investors for the tower’s mezzanine loan.
9 — Merrill Lynch Capital Corp. was one of five banks sued by junior creditors who claimed it and the other banks loaded “billions of dollars of debt onto Tribune’s newspapers, television stations and other operations without giving them any value in return, when they bought the Tribune in 2007.
There are five Merrill Lynch shell companies listed in the Panama Papers.
10 — Landesbank Sachsen Aktiengesel (Sachsen LB) is a state-owned wholesale bank based in Frankfurt, Germany. A few years after investing in Trump Tower Chicago, it became over leveraged with bad U.S. housing subprime mortgages.
It was later found that the Dublin office of Sachsen LB was borrowing short to invest long in US asset-backed securities. It lost billions in bad investments when the hosing market crashed.
11 — Highland Funds is an affiliate of Highland Capital Management L.P. based in Dallas, TX. In January, It made a $10 million endowment gift to the George W. Bush Presidential Center in 2018. Its invested at least $10 million in Trump Entertainment and Resorts.
12 — Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital, a Morgan financial advisory unit. Deutsche Bank sued it in 2014, claiming it misrepresented the quality of the $735-million residential mortgage-backed securities it sold them.
There are nine Merrill Lynch shell companies listed in the Panama Papers.
13 — Eaton Vance/Grayson & Co., a joint venture of Boston-based investment management company Eaton Vance and New York retail consulting firm Grayson & Co.
14 — E. Sun Commercial Bank, a Taiwan-based bank and financial holding company with offices in New York, has (Aug. 5) a job listing for an Anti-money laundering Manager. The bank worked with Samsung Pay to launch across Taiwan and Apple Pay to launch across Russia.
There’s an E-Sun Holdings Investment Limited listed in the Panama Papers
15 — Greenwich Capital Financial, an affiliate of the Royal Bank of Scotland that specializes in fixed-income investments. The Center for Public Integrity did a report on the top banks that were responsible for the housing market collapse in the late 2000s and found Greenwich to have invested $99 billion in subprime mortgages. Greenwich maintained a $500 million line of credit for subprime lender Fremont Investment & Loan/Fremont General Corp.
There are three “Greenwich Capital” companies listed on the Panama Papers.
16 — Union Labor Life, or Ullico Inc., is the nation’s only labor-owned insurance and investment company. It only lends money to construction projects that agree to hire union labor. In 2002, Ullico officers and directors engaged in insider dealing, stock price manipulation and other offenses. Its executives paid themselves million$ in special bonuses and deferred compensation without getting approval from the board.
17 — Foothills Asset Management, a commercial finance subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Co.
18 — MJX Venture, a New York-based asset and investment management firm.
19 — Satellite Senior Inc. 11, a New York-based trust.
The $130 million mezzanine loan was made by Fortress, which pooled the following group of six investors:
1 — German American Capital Corp., a NY-based subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, was sued with a group of 16 other entities by developer Leslie Dick in 2008 regarding violations of the RICO act. The charges over the 2003 sale of the General Motors Corp. Building in midtown Manhattan. Other parties sued included Trump, George Soros, Fortress, Deutsche and Cerebrus.
According to Dick, “Through unlawful means, including but not limited to money laundering, bankruptcy fraud and bid rigging, (some of the defendants) acquired Conseco’s prime assets, including Conseco Finance and the General Motors Building in New York City, and thereafter attempted to conceal their illicit activities.”
2 — Blackacre Institutional Capital Management, the real estate investment division of Cerebrus Capital Management, changed its name to Cerberus Real Estate Capital Management in 2007.
There are five shell companies with the name “Blackacre” listed in the Panama Papers.
3 — Newcastle Investments L.P., an affiliate of Fortress, invested $110 million in the American Golf Corporation in 2006. The company operates more than 90 U.S. golf courses, most are in CA.
In 2010, Newcastle had some of its accounts hijacked by BroCo Investments, a St. Petersburg, Russia-based investment brokerage firm. BroCo paid $1.6 million in fines for using stolen usernames and passwords to make illegal trades through customers’ stolen brokerage accounts.
There is a NewCastle Investments Ltd. listed in the Panama Papers.
4 — The Drawbridge Special Opportunities Fund L.P., run by Fortress, initially consisted of just real estate, lodging and gaming investments. It owns Penn National Gaming, which operates casinos and horse racing venues. In 2014, Drawbridge helped finance the purchase of 25% of available real estate and hospitality properties in downtown Las Vegas.
The fund was sued by Octaviar Administration Pty. Ltd. that same year in an attempt to claw back funds it allegedly siphoned from Octaviar while it was insolvent.
Drawbridge Special Opportunities Fund L.P., like its parent company Fortress, is connected to Aircastle Investment Limited in the Panama Papers.
5 — PCRL Investments L.P. could not be located.
6 — Dune Capital, formerly run by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin founded Dune Capital Management with two former Goldman partners and “got hundreds of millions of dollars” in financial backing from billionaire George Soros to fund Dune. He used Dune to invest in various real estate projects including the Trump International Hotel Waikiki and the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.
There are 12 Dune Capital companies listed in the Panama Papers.
At Dune Capital, Mnuchin also started RatPac-Dune Entertainment, a film-financing company, with Hollywood producer Brett Ratner and Australian investor James Packer. In 2013, the group closed a $300 million deal to finance as many as 75 Warner Bros. movies.
Packer, the Australian billionaire, casino magnate, is partnering with Lendlease to build the Crown Sydney Hotel Resort at Barangaroo.
Loans for the Trump’s Chicago Tower are not due until 2024.