Lawyer: Russian developer's staffer also at Trump Tower meet

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Donald Trump Jr.

WASHINGTON -- A representative of the Russian developer who partnered with President Donald Trump to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow was the eighth person at a Trump Tower meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr. during the campaign, a lawyer for the developer said Tuesday.

Ike Kaveladze attended to help translate at the meeting with Trump Jr., Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others, attorney Scott Balber told The Washington Post and CNN.

Balber told the media outlets Kaveladze works for developers Emin and Aras Agalarov and was there to represent them. The father and son, who worked with Trump on the pageant in 2013, were named in the emails that promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

In an online profile, Kaveladze lists himself as a vice president of Russia-based Crocus Group, Aras Agalarov's firm, and said in a separate LinkedIn profile he handled tax preparation for the company.

Balber didn't return messages from The Associated Press seeking comment. He told the other media outlets officials from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office were in touch with him about Kaveladze, and he and Kaveladze were cooperating. Mueller is investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

A person, familiar with the meeting speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, confirmed to The Associated Press that Kaveladze attended.

Online profiles of Kaveladze, who also goes by the name Irakly Kaveladze, state he holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of New Haven in Connecticut. His most recent U.S. address appears to be in Huntington Beach, California, although several websites he maintains state he is based in Moscow. He didn't respond to attempts to reach him through his online sites.

Trump's eldest son arranged the June 2016 meeting after he was promised a Russian government lawyer would provide negative information about Trump's Democratic rival during the campaign. In emails, Trump Jr. expressed enthusiastic support at the prospect of receiving such material.

Balber said Kaveladze wasn't needed as a translator at the meeting because Veselnitskaya brought one with her.

The meeting also was attended by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, music publicist Rob Goldstone and Rinat Akhmetshin, a prominent Russian-American lobbyist and former Soviet military officer.

Trump Jr. scheduled the gathering after Goldstone, a British publicist for Emin Agalarov, said Veselnitskaya might have damaging information on Clinton she could share. Trump Jr. has said the information wasn't useful.

Vaselnitskaya has denied she works for the Russian government. She said the meeting focused on U.S.-Russian adoption policies and a sanctions law.

On Tuesday, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said Mueller had approved Manafort and others to testify before the panel, though it was unclear whether Manafort would agree to talk.

In 2000, The New York Times cited an Irakly Kaveladze as a conduit for international money laundering who allegedly moved more than $1.4 billion for Russian and Eastern European clients, routing the funds through more than 2,000 shell corporations set up in Delaware.

The accounts then were set up at Citibank of New York and Commercial Bank of San Francisco.

Details of the operation were revealed by a General Accounting Office report that did not name Kaveladze, but identified a firm he had set up, Euro-American Corporate Services Inc., which set up the shell companies in Delaware. Kaveladze told the Times that the GAO investigation was a "witch hunt" and that he had committed no crimes. The investigation did not lead to criminal charges.

Former Michigan Sen. Carl Levin said Kaveladze was "in a sense the poster child" of how foreigners established U.S. corporations that don't disclose their true owners while laundering money through U.S. banks. In 2000, Levin was the top Democrat on the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations and asked the GAO to investigate shell corporations.

The Times reported at the time that Kaveladze was born in the Soviet Republic of Georgia in 1960 and graduated from the Moscow Finance Academy -- a degree that Ike Kaveladze also reports on his LinkedIn and internet pages. The newspaper reported he operated a firm called International Business Creations, which the GAO report said opened the bank accounts based on the Delaware shell companies.

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