‘Something smells’: Tax crime investigator suspects Trump campaign laundering money through Mar-A-Lago
President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago New Year's Eve Party (Photo: Screen capture)

President Donald Trump's re-election campaign appears to be laundering payments through Mar-A-Lago, according to a veteran tax fraud investigator.

The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold tweeted out evidence that the Trump campaign pumped $380,000 into the president's private property in 43 separate payments for an early March "donor retreat," broken into payments just under the Treasury Department's reporting requirement for receipt of cash payments, reported The Daily Beast.

"The Trump Organization’s record of the payment raises many questions I’m familiar with from my 30-year career as an investigator at the IRS," wrote retired tax crimes investigator Martin Sheil. "Is the $380,000 income? If so, what was delivered in exchange for it? Were these payments for past services rendered or for future expected returns? Who were the donors? Why didn’t the Trump Organization just report the entire $380,000 in total? Why break that down into separate transactions? Why was each payment identically described as 'Facility Rental/ Catering Services'? Is something being disguised here?"

The payments each fall just below the reporting requirement for receipt of cash payments in a trade or business to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which the Trump Organization insisted was necessary because Mar-A-Lago cannot process credit card transactions of more than $10,000.

"There are criminal penalties for structuring, or breaking a bigger payment into small chunks to evade reporting requirements, including a statutory maximum prison sentence of up to five years and/or a monetary fine of up to $250,000," Sheil wrote, adding that the evidence he's seen suggests the possibility of money laundering, as well.

Prosecutors aren't required to prove a defendant knew structuring is illegal, but instead must only prove they knew the relevant reporting requirements, Sheil wrote, and the Trump Organization's prior history of suspect conduct could count against the president.

"FinCEN imposed a $10 million civil penalty against the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort on March 6, 2015, for willful and repeated violations of the BSA," Sheil wrote. "The Taj has a history of prior, repeated BSA violations cited by examiners dating back to 2003. Additionally, in 1998, FinCEN assessed a $477,700 civil money penalty against the Taj for currency transaction reporting violations."

The president was in charge of Trump Organization and the Trump casinos at the time those penalties were imposed, and the company's chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, has worked there for more than 30 years.

"Something smells in Mar-a-Lago," Sheil wrote, "and there certainly exists enough smoke here to justify a thorough search for the fire."