Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Transcript: Trump Ties to Azerbaijan could violate Corrupt Practices Act (Rachel Maddow March 6 2017)

Last week Rachel Maddow broadcast the report transcribed here about our President's business with apparent ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; how the Trump Hotel project in Baku, Azerbaijan, ignored the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by dealing with a family known as "the Corleones of the Caspian." Here is another entry in the Malcolm Nance Transcript Project at CofA Blog, documenting the coup that is incrementally destroying democracy in the United States today.
What was going to be Trump Hotel, Baku, Azerbaijan
TRANSCRIPT:  (edited for space)
Show opens with deep background on large construction projects and the nation of Azerbaijan, then

Maddow When stuff stops making any financial sense on the surface, that's where it often starts to make sense when it comes to stories related to our new president.

Reporter Adam Davidson has a new piece out in the New Yorker today on what may end up being the next major line of inquiry into our new president, and it is starting to me to look like one of the best explanations we have had yet about why the White House is so dramatically freaked out the prospect there might be an independent investigation into this president and his foreign contacts (background on other Bechtel construction project and Iranian Revolutionary Guard).

The Revolutionary Guard in Iran have front companies in everything from oil and gas to illegal alcohol importing to weapons manufacturing, to construction, lots of construction.  The Revolutionary Guard need a lot of money for what they do around the world. But with the sanctions on them. . . they need what appear to be legitimate business transactions, the bigger the better, to receive and to spend as much money as possible, to move as much revolutionary guard money as is possible through seemingly legitimate means so that Revolutionary Guard money becomes apparently legitimate business money, which is much easier to move around the globe so you can finance terrorist groups or whatever else it is you need to do.
So if you're the Revolutionary Guard, you need front companies that can do what appears to be legitimate business.  (Background on money moving through contracts for Guard )

The transportation minister in Azerbaijan has a government salary of about twelve thousand dollars a year.  Somehow on that salary he has become a billionaire. 
We're sort of all learning now that this is one of the things to watch for in international corruption, money laundering, bribery schemes: Look for deals that on the surface make no financial sense.  Because they're going to make sense in some other way.  Look for example at this. 

13:50 – graphic: Trump Hotel in Azerbaijan
Maddow; You see this big building in the center of the picture here.  Look at the roads around it. If you wanted to drive to that building, how would you do it? 

Adam Davidson writes in the New Yorker:
“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.”
So it's literally hard to get into.  This is a picture from one angle- more photos in New Yorker- (background and jokes)

But this building, whatever you think of its looks, it doesn't make sense for several reasons. Not just because there's no way to get there. . . .
But look at this, we've marked where that hotel is in Azerbaijan, it's right on the Caspian Sea.  It's not where all the other hotels are.  In what's described as not a particularly good neighborhood, it's by an extensive field of rail yards.  It's about an hour’s walk from where any other well off Western tourist might be expected to stay in this town.  It's weird for a luxury building. 
Until December 2016, that weird building that you can't get into in the middle of nowhere next to the rail yards, that was supposed to be the site of the new Trump Tower in Azerbaijan- in all its Georgia O’Keefe glory way over there away from everything else. 
You might find it hard to picture what's weird about the location.  In 2014 Ivanka was on a business trip (story of Ivanka posting a Facebook video of how awesome the view was from her Azerbaijan hotel room). 

Ivanka:  Check it out, the view from my Balcony.  The Flame Towers.  And the Caspian Sea.
Maddow;  That is in fact a lovely view there, right next to the Caspian Sea.  That's nowhere near the building she's there to work on, that's not where the Trump Tower was going, we think she's at the Four Seasons, which is five kilometers away and an hour’s walk away from where the Trump building was going up in the middle of town, nowhere near the sea, right, in all its hard to look at glory.
This building in this random neighborhood in Baku Azerbaijan, it's a business project that really doesn't make sense on the surface.  It's a huge luxury development in a city that isn’t sustaining its current luxury properties, it's in the wrong part of town for a luxury property, no way was ever designed to get into the property, why was this built, how could it ever make financial sense to pour this much in terms of resources into something that doesn't even seem like it was designed to work?
This was supposed to be Trump Tower Baku Azerbaijan.  One month after our election, the Trump organization abandoned this project and they pulled out.
And here’s what you need to know.
The Trump family’s business partner in that project was the family of the Transportation Minister of Azerbaijan, the one who made all those lucrative partnerships, the inexplicably lucrative deals, with companies that really do appear to just be fronts for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, apparently helping them launder money and making his own family wildly wealthy in the process.  He might greenlight anything.

American businesses are free to do business anywhere it is legal to do business in the world but American businesses are not allowed to accept any funds if the origin of those funds is a sanctioned organization like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
And you [as a business person] have to check it out, you have to know.  American businesses are not allowed to participate in business deals with partners who are acting illegally and you have to know, you have to check it out.  Looking the other way is not a defense.  (story of a handbag company whose founder was convicted of doing business in Azerbaijan with a corrupt partner).   
If you're in American business you're expected to do your due diligence to make sure your business partners are not accepting bribes, they're not corrupt.
In the case of this inexplicable Trump building project that was inexplicably abandoned right after the election, Trump and his family were in business with the cartoon caricature of corruption in that country, and I mean that almost literally. In the fall of 2014, four months before Ivanka Trump was on the balcony of the Four Seasons showing off the Caspian Sea from a normal hotel location, the family was she was there to do business with was featured in this issue of Foreign Policy Magazine, look at the headline:
“The Corleones of the Caspian”
Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which is U.S. law, not to put too fine a point on it, under that Act, you cannot go into business with “the Corleones of the Caspian.” You must as an American business do due diligence to make sure your partners are not corrupt, [especially] sponsoring international terrorism like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.  It is a violation of U.S. law to do business with a partnership like that.
The new president, he and his organization backed out of this deal a month after the election, not before he received millions of dollars from the deal, we know that from the financial filings he made in the election. 

Transcribed by City of Angels Blog Winging It Transcripts, documenting the coup that is currently destroying democracy in the United States with plans to go global with a fascist corporatocracy that will suck out oil and resources and destroy the planet.

Just another day in California. 

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