Trump’s dirty money



Russian money saved Trump when his projects were on the verge of collapse. Will it now be the cause of his political demise?

Marty Byrde has a problem. His partner at the financial services firm has been skimming off the top of the money-laundering service they’re providing a Mexican narcotrafficker. The drug dealer responds by killing Marty’s partner.

He’s just about to put a bullet into Marty as well when, in desperation, the financial planner comes up with a cockamamie idea to move the money-laundering operation from Chicago down to the Ozarks. Bemused by this last-ditch plea, the dealer agrees. But Marty must first pass a test: he has to launder $8 million over the summer in Missouri lake country.

This is the premise of the Netflix series Ozark. It’s the perfect series for the Trump era.

Every administration offers the country a crash course in something. The George W. Bush administration made terrorism experts of us all. The Obama administration forced us to become knowledgeable about economic recovery, sequestration, and economic recovery plans.

And now, to understand the rise and (inevitable) fall of Donald J. Trump, it’s imperative to learn the ins and outs of money laundering.

Sure, the TV show Breaking Bad provided an introduction to the subject, but money laundering was only ancillary to the main action of producing and distributing methamphetamine. Ozark goes into the gory details of finding investments, cooking the books, churning the loot, parking it overseas, and making the final product available from ATMs the world over.

It’s a feat of alchemy, to turn bad money into good. It also mirrors the functioning of the world of finance more generally. After all, who really understands what takes place in the alembics of Wall Street? As Marty Byrde points out, as he’s considering the pros and cons of working for the narcotraffickers, he’s already been doing a form of money laundering in his day job.

That money — perhaps from Big Tobacco or Big Pharma or underpaid child laborers or land stolen from small farmers — may not have been all that clean to begin with. And Wall Street is notorious for cooking the books and finding tax dodges to shelter gains from the grasping hands of government.

But, technically, money laundering has to be connected to a crime, like the sales of narcotics or human trafficking. Illegal drugs alone account for as much as $100 billion in sales a year in the United States. Physically, that’s 20 million pounds of currency. Globally, that figure is $4 trillion — that’s nearly a billion pounds of currency. Talk about off the scales!

The billion-dollar question is: How much of that filthy lucre has circulated through Donald Trump’s business empire?

Is Trump a Launderer?

Before he became president, Donald Trump was basically an unsuccessful businessman who managed, time and again, to fail upward. He filed for bankruptcy six times — five times for his casinos and once for the Plaza Hotel.

He’s been involved in several high-profile and very expensive investments that ultimately didn’t go forward: the West Side Yards in New York City, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Dubai, Trump Towers Rio, Trump Ocean Resort in Baja, Mexico, and several shady real-estate deals in Florida.

An astounding number of his other business ventures have gone belly up too, including Trump Airlines, Trump University, and Trump Magazine.

Foreign Policy In Focus for more

Comments are closed.