After a long seven-year legal battle, Felix Sater - cofounder of Bayrock Group - was exonerated of all charges by a New York Court judge on September 28, 2017. The dismissal of the tax fraud charges of $250 million dollars vicariously exonerates Tevfik Arif, the founder of Bayrock, and puts serious doubt on the ongoing but unconfirmed reports of any illegal dealings between Bayrock and any of its employees and the Trump organization.
The prosecution was conducted by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The basis of the prosecution was a whistle blower's report that is purported to have revealed details of Felix Sater’s involvement in money laundering. The money laundering was first reported in a legal action against Slater by Jody Kriss. Kriss was a former employee of Bayrock who claimed to have lost money through illegal actions by Bayrock management.
The purported whistleblower is thought to be Fred Oberlander. Oberlander is an attorney that represented Sater at one time. Some of the information that he supplied to Eric Schneiderman had been previously banned from his original complaint by a federal court. This made the complaint that Schneiderman presented useless.
The case was dismissed on lack of merit based on reports from Sater’s attorney Robert Wolf. Schneiderman did not comment.
The proceedings were complicated by the fact that Oberlander released an erroneous press release indicating that the Schneiderman planned to intervene in the case. There were no such plans at the time. Oberlander and another attorney named Richard Lerner have been referred to the Department of Justice twice concerning their actions involved in pursuing the case against Felix Sater and Bayrock Group.
Jody Kriss’s original complaint against Bayrock Group and Tevfik Arif was not completely dismissed. The allegations of illegal behaviors were allowed to move ahead in December of 2016 based on U. S. racketeering laws. Some suspicion has been aroused in that Donald Trump won the election for President from former New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Trump had financial dealings with Bayrock. Schneiderman is a Democrat and has made attempts to prosecute Trump for collusion with Russian business people without success.
Kriss is the person who brings Donald Trump and his organization into the Bayrock legal battle years before Trump ever considered being President. Kriss states that Trump was not informed about Felix Sater’s documented criminal past when Bayrock and the Trump Organization began negotiations for joint ventures in 2003. Kriss fails to mention that Sater’s records were sealed due to his assistance to the U. S. government.
Donald Trump claims that he would not have been associated with Sater or Bayrock if he knew about Sater’s criminal past in a 2007 deposition. He also claims that he has no recall of having met Sater. Sater’s criminal records were sealed by the U. S. courts at the time so Trump could never have gotten the information.
The offices of Bayrock were located two floors below the offices of the Trump organization in the Trump Tower. One person who claims anonymity in hopes of preventing reprisals claims that they observed Sater and Trump meeting on numerous occasions. This is hardly news. There is a multitude of photographs that verify such meetings.
Donald Trump used Bayrock for their promotional ingenuity and as an in to Russia and Russian investment opportunity. Sater was photographed escorting Trumps daughter and son-in-law around Moscow. There is as yet no evidence that anything criminal or has occurred between Bayrock, Trump, Sater, and Arif.
One might note that Jody Kriss is a former reporter. His book about Donald Trump produced a lawsuit by Trump. Trump’s suit was tossed out of court. His suit against Bayrock does not specify the amount of losses that he sustained. If he knew Sater was such a criminal one wonders why he was working with him. One might expect a new book from Kriss when the trials are ended and Bayrock is exonerated yet again. Kriss may face collusion charges with Fred Oberlander.