In a report published last week, Global Witness details how the building to which Trump leased his name helped launder “proceeds from Colombian cartels’ narcotics trafficking.” And as Global Witness found, Donald Trump himself “was one of the beneficiaries” of such laundering practices. Information available from a bonds sales prospectus revealed that the Trump Organization would see revenue from every unit sold at Trump Ocean Club.
Even if Trump and Ivanka were somehow unaware that the building served as a spigot for laundering cartel cash, it would have been difficult to miss the signs that Trump Ocean Club — set up during the years that Panama came into its own as an offshore haven — was being used for money laundering on a massive scale.
There were several obvious signs that Trump Ocean Club was laundering cash:
- Many of the units were purchased in cash, an easy means of obscuring payments. According to the lawyer for a convicted fraudster — a criminal who acted as a “key player” in laundering drug money at Trump Ocean Club, per Global Witness — the cash that purchased the Trump Ocean Club units found its way to Panama via “mules” crossing the border from Colombia.
- Numerous units were purchased in bulk, a common practice behind money laundering.
- Numerous units were purchased via anonymous, untraceable shell companies, dozens of which contained “Trump” in their names. Anonymous shell companies, as real estate brokers from Seattle to New York to London can attest, remain one of the most popular means of laundering ill-gotten gains.
- Some purchases were even conducted via “bearer shares,” according to sources. “Bearer shares,” in which the holder of a certain piece of paper is the literal holder of the related share, remain so notoriously linked to money laundering that they’ve been outlawed in jurisdictions like the Bahamas, the United Kingdom, and — as of 2013, after the bulk sales at Trump Ocean Club — Panama.