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Post Trump's "Mission Accomplished" and Financial Shenanigans; from Ric Mauricio
Created by John Eipper on 04/15/18 2:13 PM

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Trump's "Mission Accomplished" and Financial Shenanigans; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA, 04/15/18 2:13 pm)

Ric Mauricio writes:

To paraphrase Mark Twain, "The reports of Trump's successes are greatly exaggerated."

In an earlier WAIS posting, I posted his investment underperformance relative to the passive S&P 500 and conservatively leveraged commercial real estate.

Of course, this underperformance is really not surprising, given his "successes."

The Trump Taj Mahal, which opened in 1990, went through 4 bankruptcies, 1991, 2004, 2009, and 2014 before being sold to Carl Icahn, closing in 2016. During the time that Trump owned it, the casino paid a $10 million fine for willful violations of the US Bank Secrecy Act (which targets money laundering) and admitted doing it on purpose. When an investment analyst issued a "sell" on the Taj Mahal stock, Trump was so angry that he had the analyst fired and destroyed his career.

The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Baku, Azerbaijan, was abandoned in 2016 and remains empty. Side note: The project developers Elton and Anar Mammadov are known as the "Corleones of the Caspian." Duffel bags of cash were used to pay contractors. Hmmm. Money laundering, anyone?

The Trump SOHO in New York was foreclosed upon in 2014 and was renamed the Dominick Hotel by CIM Group, a California real estate investor, in December 2017. Trump's partners were Feliz Sater, a Russian who had pled guilty of stock manipulation, and Tamir Sapir, a Russian mobster. Financing for that hotel came from an Icelandic bank with ties to Putin.

The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto, Canada was never owned by Trump but managed by the Trump Organization until June 2017 and the hotel renamed Adelaide Hotel Toronto. Side note: The developer, Alex Shnaider, sold a business to a Russian-controlled bank where Vladimir Putin was chairman of the board. He arranged for the project to be financed by another foreign bank, accused of acting as a conduit for Russian money laundering. Trump's first partner was Leib Waldman, who fled the US after pleading guilty to bankruptcy fraud and embezzlement.

The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, British Columbia is not owned by Trump but managed by the Trump Organization. The FBI is investigating Ivanka Trump, who oversaw the hotel's interior design. Joo Kim Tiah, the hotel developer and son of tycoon Tony Tiah Thee Kian, is also under investigation. Kian pleaded guilty for Malaysian stock manipulation and barred from corporate boardrooms for five years.

The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower opened in 2011 in Panama City. On March 5, 2018, the majority owner obtained a court order and physically removed Trump Organization personnel from the building. The project's lead broker, Alexandre Nogueira, admitted to money laundering and was arrested for fraud and forgery in other projects. He has fled the country, probably staying at the Trump Tower. All-cash deals for condos, a red flag for money laundering, were commonplace at Trump Panama. Convicted drug-money launderer Colombian David Guzman bought 10 condos. Russian money launderers Andrey Bogdanov and Ivan Kazanikov bought a dozen.

And reports of Trump's failures are greatly exalted. Yes, he is so smart, outsmarting the IRS with a $19 million loss.

As an aside, Mao's corpse in the mausoleum is a waxen figure. The story is that they tried to preserve his body for posterity, but the body continued to decompose, and finally, since they had already created the wax figure, they decided to utilize that instead. No one knows what happened to the real body. When I was in Beijing, my wife asked me if I was going to buy a souvenir with Mao's visage. Knowing his history, I refused to do so. The only thing I have with his visage is a picture of that huge picture of him at the entrance to Tiananmen Square and the few bits of paper currency.

JE comments:  My mind is thoroughly boggled, Ric.  One thing has emerged from this weekend's missiles and tweets:  Trump and Putin are no longer BFFs.  Although wouldn't a healthy spike in oil prices be just what Vladimir Vladimirovich needs?

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  • Fooling Some of the People, All of the People... (John Heelan, UK 04/17/18 5:04 AM)
    Congratulations to Ric Mauricio for his superb analysis (15 April) of "SuperTrump."

    It seems to me that the President's boasts are acquiring the same reliability as street scene facades on Universal Studios film sets.  They look good but have no depth and could be blown away by a sudden squall.

    Perhaps Trump should remember the dictum on fooling people attributed to Lincoln but more likely first elucidated by the Frenchman Jacques Abbadie in 1684: "Ont pû tromper quelques hommes, ou les tromper tous dans certains lieux & en certains tems, mais non pas tous les hommes, dans tous les lieux & dans tous les siècles." "One can fool some men, or fool all men in some places and times, but one cannot fool all men in all places and ages.")

    See https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/12/11/cannot-fool/

    JE comments:  Proof of the polarized times we live in:  Trump has fooled some of the people all of the time, and the rest of the people none of the time.

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  • Andrei Bogdanov (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 04/19/18 5:06 AM)
    I have only one very unimportant question to the impressive post by Ric Mauricio of 15 April:

    Is Andrei Bogdanov, whom Ric mentions as a known money launderer, this same Bogdanov?


    Thank you, Ric.

    JE comments:  Ric?  The Bogdanov linked above wears several hats, including the Chairman of the Communist Party of Social Justice and Grand Master of the Russian Freemasons. 

    Freemasonry was always one of Professor Hilton's topics of interest.  In the "old days," the Masons were implicated in conspiracy theories of every stripe.  There was even a significant American political movement in the 1820s, the Anti-Masonic Party.

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    • Two Bogdanovs: Andrei V and Andrey I (from Ric Mauricio) (John Eipper, USA 04/20/18 3:57 AM)
      Ric Mauricio responds to Boris Volodarsky (19 April):

      No, actually the first name is spelled Andrey, not Andrei. The patronymic is Iurevici.

      From a news article in 2015:

      BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian prosecutors have indicted Russia's Petrotel Lukoil refinery in Romania and its director-general, who is a Russian citizen, in a 2 billion euro criminal probe, prosecutors said in a statement. "Prosecutors from the Ploiesti court of appeals completed the inquiry and indicted Andrey Iurevici Bogdanov, a Russian citizen ... for money laundering and for the use in bad faith of the company's capital," it said. Three other Petrotel officials were also indicted, as was the Netherlands-registered Lukoil Europe Holdings Bvatrium, the statement said. (Reporting by Radu Marinas; editing by Matthias Williams)

      JE comments:  Andrei/y are two transliterations of the same Russian name.  Iurevici must be a "Romanianization" of Yurevich, son of Yuri.

      Confused?  Here's Ric Mauricio's original post on Andrey Iurevici Bogdanov:


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    • Conspiracy Theories and the Freemasons; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 04/21/18 4:05 AM)

      Gary Moore writes:

      Re the Freemasons (see Boris Volodarsky, April 19, to Ric Mauricio), the great
      swarm of conspiracy theories surrounding the Masons, especially the
      Illuminati-hating sermons around 1800, were cock-eyed imaginings,
      but the mere fact that most conspiracy theories are crazed doesn't mean
      real conspiracies don't exist.

      In the early nineteenth century a group
      of irate Masons probably did kill the self-appointed tell-all writer Morgan
      in upstate New York (the body was never found), and, though Masonic rules
      have usually been successful in forbidding political intrigues, there are
      prestigious exceptions. The entire continent of South America flared
      with independence fever in the wake of the Lodge of the Americas,
      a radical Masonic group in London that nurtured Bolívar, San Martin, O'Higgins,
      and Miranda, while a floral nicety, the poinsettia. is named after the South
      Carolina-born ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, who John Adams called
      home for intriguing among warring Masonic lodges south of the border.

      But more famous and closer to home was the Green Dragon Tavern, in whose
      jolly upstairs lodge room the Boston Tea Party was hatched. The theories tend
      not to dwell on the fact that the freethinking, deistic Masons emphasize the value
      of free public education, down to the present day, so the theorists sometimes
      ignore an obscure-sounding but Masonic-linked group called Americans United
      For Separation of Church and State (Pope Clement XII followed the Inquisition in
      1738 in banning Masonry). The obscure-sounding group has taken a disputed degree
      of interest in American educational issues, perhaps extending to Brown v. Board
      of Education
      in 1954. The Masons are quick to point out that much of this history is public, so
      as far as dedicated conspiracy theories go, the CIA or the Trilaterals are more
      suited to non-falsifiable romance.

      JE comments:  Gary, do I understand correctly that Brown v Board may have been lost if not for the blessing (or intervention?) of the Freemasons?

      Linda Brown was the young plaintiff in the landmark Topeka case.  We didn't acknowledge her passing last month (March 25th), at the age of 75.

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    • Masons, Mozart, and Science (Istvan Simon, USA 05/05/18 9:05 AM)
      In response to Boris Volodarsky (21 April), I don't know much about Freemasons in recent times, but I do know that in the 18th century Freemasons included many distinguished and prominent men, including Mozart and many of his patrons.

      Masonry included from its very origins a respect for science and geometry, evident from the symbol for Freemasons.

      As usual Wikipedia has a very good introduction to the history of Freemasonry:


      JE comments:  I just learned I've been harboring a misunderstanding for the last thirty years:  the "Eye of Providence" on the US dollar bill (see below) is not directly inspired by the Masons.  (This from Wikipedia.)  The Masons did not use the eye symbol until 14 years after its adoption in the US, and among the creators of the US seal, only Benjamin Franklin was a Freemason.

      Regardless of its provenance, I still say the symbol is creepy.

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      • Masonry and Anti-Masonry in US History; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 05/06/18 4:31 AM)

        Gary Moore writes:

        On JE's comment to Istvan Simon about the Masons (May 5):
        the choosing of the pyramid and eye for the Great Seal of the
        United States was done, as a Government Printing Office
        document explains in our own time, by a post-revolutionary
        committee whose records have been lost.

        Ben Franklin,
        who once fondly presented a Masonic apron to an ailing Voltaire,
        was on the committee. This doesn't necessarily mean the Masons
        were rigging the show and tacitly boasting of controlling the
        new nation. But it does remind that the symbols were clearly
        chosen to reflect deist rationalism: There is a God, whose eye
        is on us, but we shouldn't kill each other over Whose He is
        (with apologies to the deists). Istvan is right that many prominent
        and respected men of that age (and later ages) were Masons,
        though in the US they hit rough water in the revivalism of the Second
        Great Awakening after 1800, and by the 1820s frantic preaching
        against the alleged devil-worshipers (with or without the Illuminati)
        was encouraging mobs to hound prominent Masons in the streets.
        This vitiated the ranks and influence of Masonry in the Northeast,
        and its power center moved more to the frontier--the South and West.

        It's interesting to go to the US Capitol and see, in one of the well-trodden
        basement corridors there, an elaborate mural painted on the ceiling, depicting
        George Washington in his Masonic apron, as he lays the cornerstone of the
        Capitol itself. That cornerstone, too, with its Masonic emblem, can still be
        seen outside. And, to move the lens just down the Mall, the subscription list
        for the financing of the Washington Monument in the early nineteenth century
        tends to confirm what the pseudo-pharaonic architecture of the monument
        makes pretty clear anyway: This American landmark was largely a Masonic project.
        Behind the delusional preachings about devil-worshipers, there were real patterns
        in society, staring at us cryptically, in plain sight.

        JE comments:  My favorite (perhaps that's not the best word--most compelling?) Masonic story concerns the execution of Mexico's Maximilian in 1867.  Shortly before facing the firing squad, the Emperor gave the secret Masonic distress signal.  His executioners included some Masons, but they shot him anyway.  (Benito Juárez, who ordered the execution, was also a Mason.)

        Google "Maximilian was a Mason" and your first hit is this posting from WAIS antiquity (2000):


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