Russian state-run bank financed Toronto Trump hotel through mystery buyer: report
A new report in the Wall Street Journal reveals that a Trump-branded hotel in Toronto received an urgently needed cash injection via a deal financed by a Russian state-run bank.
According to the Journal, government-owned VEB helped former Trump hotel partner Alexander Shnaider arrange an asset sale involving a share in a Ukrainian steel firm worth $850 million. Shortly after Shnaider completed the deal, he quickly began injecting cash into the Trump Toronto project, which the Journal notes was financially troubled at the time of the sale.
Although the buyer of the share hasn’t been publicly identified, two sources tell the Journal that it was “an entity acting for the Russian government.”
The Trump Organization emphasized to the Journal that it “had no involvement in any financial dealings with VEB” over the project, as it “merely licensed its brand and manages the hotel and residences.”
Nonetheless, the transaction is notable because, as the Journal notes, “VEB has long been viewed by Russian analysts as a vehicle for the Russian government to fund politically important projects.” Even more intriguing is the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin was chairman of VEB’s supervisory board at the time of Shnaider’s deal, which means he would have likely personally signed off on such a large transaction.
VEB was placed on a U.S. sanctions list to punish the Russian government for its 2014 invasion of Crimea.