An auditor responsible for overseeing Trump Media's books is ducking calls seeking comment on a pair of loans totaling $8 million that have fallen under investigation as possible money laundering.
Top executives at Donald Trump's social media platform raised concerns about the loans from Paxum Bank and ES Family Trust, which both are linked to an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and it remains unclear whether the SEC-licensed broker-dealer who sourced the loans or auditor BF Borgers completed any due diligence under anti-money laundering and “Know Your Customer” requirements, reported The Guardian.
"A person who picked up the phone at BF Borgers this week put a reporter seeking comment on hold until the line disconnected," the newspaper's Hugo Lowell reported. "On a subsequent call, the person said they would pass the request on to managing partner Ben Borgers."
The payments came as Trump Media, which owns the Trump Social platform, was running out of money in December 2021 and February 2022 as its planned merger with the blank check company DWAC was halted by an SEC investigation, and top executives at the fledgling tech company were so concerned about the origins of the loans they considered returning the money.
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However, according to Trump Media co-founder-turned-whistleblower Will Wilkerson, chief financial officer Phillip Juhan ultimately decided not to return the money because giving up $8 million of the roughly $12 million of cash they had on hand would have put the company in a precarious position.
DWAC chief executive Patrick Orlando sourced the first loan, $2 million from Paxum Bank, just before Christmas 2021 and later charged a $240,000 finder’s fee to Trump Media, and he declined to provide requested information about the lender to company executives who voiced concerns.
Donald Trump Jr., who had taken a more active role in the company since that summer, personally signed off on the loan Christmas Eve 2021 in a communication sent to outside counsel, but Juhan raised concerns again about the sources of the loans on March 8, 2022.
"Our auditors require confirmation statements signed by all noteholders," Juhan wrote in an email reviewed by The Guardian. "We don’t have a contact for ES Family Trust other than the name of Angel Pacheco (Trustee). Can you provide contact info (email) so that our auditor (BF Borgers) can email this confirmation? Thanks!”
It's unclear whether any further information or a signed version of the loan agreement was ever passed on to Juhan or the auditor, and the CFO and Orlando also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.