Well, it seems that yet another one of White House Resident Trump’s shady foreign business deals is starting to stink up everything. This time his unopened failed luxury hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan appears to have been built with links to the Iranian Republican Guard and local oligarchs.
Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald reported in September that Trump’s financial filings show he’s partners in the Baku deal with the son of Azerbaijan’s transportation minister.
U.S. officials believe that official, Ziya Mammadov, laundered money for the Iranian military, although no formal charges were brought against him or his son, Anar Mammadov — who is Trump’s partner in the Baku hotel venture.
The New Yorker examined Trump’s ties to Ziya Mammadov — one of the wealthiest and most powerful oligarchs in one of the world’s most corrupt nations — and his brother, Elton Mammadov, an influential member of the Azerbaijani parliament, who signed contracts for the project and founded Baku XXI Century, which owns the tower.
The Mammadov family, described by Foreign Policy magazine as “The Corleones of the Caspian,” has a reputation for using their government positions to enrich themselves and their partners — which includes construction firms tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
And we thought Trump’s business ties to Russian mobsters was a problem, ho boy.
Now the Trump’s don’t own the hotel and haven’t put any money into it themselves, but they do have some legal liability.
There is no suggestion that Davishi or the Revolutionary Guard funded the project in any way but legal experts told The New Yorker the Trump Organization should have been aware of the Mammadovs' ties to it and steered clear of doing business with them as a result.
It suggests the Trump Organization may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 by making a profit off of any corrupt conduct carried out by the Mammadovs - an allegation Trump's organization denies.
And what’s even worse is the hotel is total failure and remains closed because it sits in a depressed neighborhood and is apparently inaccessible as reported by Adam Davidson at the New Yorker.
The building, a five-star hotel and residence called the Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku, has never opened, though from the road it looks ready to welcome the public. Reaching the property is surprisingly difficult; the tower stands amid a welter of on-ramps, off-ramps, and overpasses. During the nine days I was in town, I went to the site half a dozen times, and on each occasion I had a comical exchange with a taxi-driver who had no idea which combination of turns would lead to the building’s entrance.
The timing of the project was also curious. By 2014, when the Trump Organization publicly announced that it was helping to turn the tower into a hotel, a construction boom in Baku had ended, and the occupancy rate for luxury hotels in the city hovered around thirty-five per cent. Jan deRoos, of Cornell University, who is an expert in hotel finance, told me that the developer of a five-star hotel typically must demonstrate that the project will maintain an average occupancy rate of at least sixty per cent for ten years. There is a long-term master plan to develop the area around the Trump Tower Baku, but if it is implemented the hotel will be surrounded for years by noisy construction projects, making it even less appealing to travellers desiring a luxurious experience—especially considering that there are many established hotels on the city’s seaside promenade. There, an executive from ExxonMobil or the Israeli cell-phone industry can stay at the Four Seasons, which occupies a limestone building that evokes a French colonial palace, or at the J. W. Marriott Abershon Baku, which has an outdoor terrace overlooking the water. Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, and Armani are among the dozens of companies that have boutiques along the promenade.
As we’ve seen despite promises that he would no longer continue his overseas projects Don Jr. and Eric just opened the new Trump Luxury Condo in Vancouver which yet again presents problems with the Emoluments clause.
President Donald Trump's two eldest sons attended the grand opening of their company's new hotel and condominium tower in Vancouver on Tuesday, where they were greeted by protests in this Canadian city known for its diversity and progressive politics.
Protesters, some carrying posters proclaiming, "Love Trumps Hate," surrounded the building's entrance while police and security officers in black suits gathered on sidewalks at the soaring tower, which has drawn praise for its sleek design but has also raised ethical concerns about the business interests of the new U.S. president.
"The name Trump has now become synonymous not with luxury and lifestyle, but with racism, sexism and intolerance," said City Councilman Kerry Jang, who was among the city officials boycotting the event.
The chief White House ethics lawyers under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have criticized Trump's turning over control of his business to his sons, saying it does not eliminate potential conflicts of interest.
Legal experts also say Trump's overseas businesses could violate the "emoluments clause" of the U.S. Constitution, which bars public officials from accepting payments or gifts from foreign governments or companies they control without the consent of Congress. A liberal-funded watchdog group has filed a lawsuit against Trump citing the clause
What a tangled web they weave...
Frank Vyan Walton
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Frank Vyan Walton
Rachel has this story now, which points out that this project was handled by Ivanka Trump and gives good background on Azerbaijan and their links to Iranian Guard.