Earlier this year it became clear that Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort was laundering Russian money through Bank of Cyprus, and it appeared that Trump himself might have been doing the same. This led to the inevitable question, which at the time had no answer: what did this have to do with Trump’s decision to nominate Bank of Cyprus vice chairman Wilbur Ross as his Secretary of Commerce? Now we’re finally getting to the Wilbur Ross stage of the Trump-Russia investigation.
Manafort’s arrest and indictment this week revealed that he was indeed using Bank of Cyprus for his Russian money laundering, as has long been reported. Now comes word that Bank of Cyprus itself turned over its records on Manafort to Robert Mueller just before Manafort’s arrest (link). This appears to mean that the records were indeed helpful, and served as the final piece of evidence that allowed Mueller to conclude he had Manafort nailed. So what does this have to do with Ross?
It means that Bank of Cyprus, long viewed as a virtually opaque haven for money launderers, is now willing to fully cooperate with the Feds in the United States. In other words, the bank is likely willing to turn over any relevant records involving its former vice chairman Wilbur Ross. So if Mueller wants answers as to whether it was just a coincidence that Trump picked Ross as his Commerce Secretary, it means he can get them. Based on what we already know, it already looks very bad for Ross.
Earlier this year, Deutsche Bank was busted by U.S. and European regulators for laundering billions of dollars of Russian money through Bank of Cyprus and into hands of clients in places like New York City (link). Deutsche Bank has also suspiciously loaned extraordinary amounts of money to Donald Trump in recent years, even as most banks came to view him as a poor credit risk. In other words, it sure looks like the New York City client on the receiving end of that Russian money was Trump, and the “loans” were just a cover.
Wilbur Ross will have a hell of a time convincing anyone that as vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, he somehow didn’t know what Donald Trump, Paul Manafort and Russia were using his bank for. Now that Manafort has been charged with Russian money laundering through Bank of Cyprus, look for the Mueller probe to target Ross soon, as either a witness or a subject, if it hasn’t already.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report