Federal authorities investigated Trump Media for alleged money laundering: Source
According to sources familiar with the matter, federal prosecutors in New York involved in the criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s social media company last year started to investigate whether it violated money laundering statutes in connection with the acceptance of $8 million with suspected Russian ties.
Trump Media, which controls Trump’s Truth Social platform, was initially under criminal investigation for its preparations for a prospective merger with a blank check firm named Digital World (DWAC), which was also the focus of a previous Securities and Exchange Commission probe.
According to the sources, federal prosecutors started to investigate two loans totaling $8 million wired to Trump Media through the Caribbean from two obscure entities that each appear to be owned in part by a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The wide opening of the criminal investigation, which was not previously disclosed, threatens to delay the completion of the merger between Trump Media and DWAC, which would give the firm and Truth Social up to $1.3 billion in capital as well as a stock market listing.
Even if Trump Media and its officials face no criminal charges as a result of the transactions, the optics of borrowing money from potentially unsavory sources through opaque methods may damage Trump’s image as he seeks to regain the White House in 2024.
The degree of Trump Media’s and its officers’ exposure to money laundering is unclear. The statutes generally require prosecutors to show that defendants knew the money was the profits of illegal activity and that the transaction was planned to hide its source.
Money laundering charges, on the other hand, are often based on circumstantial evidence and can be based on documents showing that the money in issue was unlikely to have genuine origins, according to legal experts.
The first $2 million payment to Trump Media occurred in December 2021, when the firm was on the verge of bankruptcy after the planned merger with DWAC, which would have unlocked millions for the company, was delayed due to an SEC investigation into whether the arrangement violated regulatory standards.
Trump Media needs a bridge loan to stay solvent. According to the wire transfer document received by the Guardian, DWAC’s chief executive Patrick Orlando sourced a $2 million loan wired through Paxum Bank registered in Dominica.
The Justice Department, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Trump Media’s outside counsel all declined to comment on the probe. Requests for comment from Rosmorport and Paxum Bank were not returned.