Earlier we learned that Ike Kaveladze, an employee of Trump- and Putin-connected Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, was the eighth person at the Trump Tower meeting between the Trump campaign and several Kremlin-connected individuals. More information has since surfaced about Kaveladze’s job as a U.S.-based staff member of Agalarov’s real estate development company Crocus Group, as well as long-simmering money-laundering accusations levied against him.
According to The Daily Beast, Kaveladze began working for Agalarov in 1992 (not 2004, as his LinkedIn profile states) — one year after emigrating from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Federal investigators believe Kaveladze almost immediately began laundering Russian money:
Kaveladze was the president of International Business Creations, a Delaware corporation. Between 1991 and 2000, IBC and sister corporation Euro-American moved $1.4 billion from Eastern Europe through U.S. banks and back to Europe, the Government Accountability Office found in 2000. Kaveladze was not named in the report, but he was reportedly identified as its accused figure. “What I see here is another Russian witch hunt in the United States,” Kaveladze told the New York Times in 2000 about the allegations.
The GAO investigation found that IBC and Euro-American set up 236 bank accounts at Citibank and the Bank of New York, as well as over 2,000 corporations, in this time period. At the time Kaveladze said the purpose of the accounts was to move money out of Russia, and that Euro-American was being liquidated due to concerns raised in 1999 that it was a money-laundering operation for the Russian mafia. Per interviews conducted with Kaveladze by the GAO, however, he denied any wrongdoing.
Scott Balber, Kaveladze and Agalarov’s attorney, confirmed his clients were cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s expanding investigation. In June, Mueller hired Andrew Weissmann, “the former head of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud unit, who is an expert on fraud, foreign bribery, and organized crime,” as part of his ongoing Russia probe. So if anyone on the team is currently spearheading the investigation into Kaveladze’s, it’s likely Weissmann.