The eighth person who was at a June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and others at Trump Tower has been identified.
That man is Ike Kaveladze, a Russian executive who works in real-estate investing and development. Attorney Scott Balber, who also represents Emin and Aras Agalarov, confirmed his identity to the media.
The Agalarovs are the Russian developers who hosted the Donald Trump-led Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. They’ve had close ties with the Trump family for years, and emails that Trump Jr. released July 11 shows that the family may have played a major role in efforts by Russia to assist the Trump presidential campaign.
According to a July 18 report from The Washington Times, Balber said he received a call from Robert Mueller, the man who is acting as special counsel in the Trump-Russia probe, over the weekend. Balber said Mueller was looking to interview the Agalarov representative in the meeting, who turned out to be Kaveladze. The request by Mueller is “the first public indication” that his team is looking into the June 2016 meeting, The Post reported.
It’s unclear exactly when Kaveladze and the Trump family’s relationship started, but a photo found by CNN shows Kaveladze and the Agalarovs at a private 2013 dinner with Trump.
Kaveladze has been active in many development projects in Russia and was once accused by Congress of being part of a scheme where $1.4 billion of foreign money was laundered.
Here’s what you need to know about Kaveladze:
1. Kaveladze Works as a VP of Real Estate Finance for a Russian Company
According to his biography, Kaveladze works as a vice president specializing in real estate and finance for the Agalarovs’ company, Crocus Group. Aras is the president of the company and Emin is the “first” vice president.
Crocus Group, the administrative arm of Crocus City, has been involved in the development of many properties in the Russian trade, exhibition and entertainment space. Those include Crocus City Mall in Russia, Vegas in Russia and many other commercial properties. It also is involved in a few residential projects as well as Crocus Bank and the Crocus City Oceanarium. Most of the properties its works on are retail stores specializing in fashion, but there are also a number of restaurants developed by Crocus Group.
Crocus Group is based out of Moscow, and Kaveladze “provides oversight to numerous projects throughout the region and is responsible for the financial structuring of international investment projects,” his biography says.
Kaveladze came to the company with years of experience in tax planning and business development, having overseen the hiring of United States-based architects and engineers, his bio continued.
He was hired by the company to serve as an analyst in 2004 and was promoted to VP in 2009.
His LinkedIn account says that his responsibilities include “investment project development, regional business planning and comprehensive tax preparation.”
2. Kaveladze Opened Thousands of Bank Accounts for Russian Brokers, a 2000 Report Said
According to a New York Times article in 2000, Kaveladze, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1991 from Russia, once set up over 2,000 corporations for Russian brokers in Delaware and then opened bank accounts for them. The General Accounting Office confirmed to The Times in a report that Kaveladze opened the accounts without knowing who owned the corporations. The report also stated that the banks where Kaveladze opened the accounts “failed conduct any due diligence into identifying the owners of the accounts.”
The report was part of a Congressional inquiry which was aimed to find out how easy it is for foreigners to hide their identities in companies and launder money through American banks.
“It is clear in hindsight that our systems and tracking procedures were not sufficient to detect the nature and extent of his relationship with us,” Citibank General Counsel Michael A. Ross said in a statement to The Times regarding Kaveladze. “Given enhancements to our systems and procedures, we are confident that we would detect questionable activity and take action more promptly should a similar situation arise today.”
The article said that over $800 million was wired from foreign countries to 136 bank accounts that Kaveladze opened for Russian clients through Citibank in the name of his company, International Business Creations. That money was then sent back to overseas accounts, government officials concluded.
In total, investigators found that Russians and other Eastern Europeans had wired over $1.4 billion through banks in New York and San Francisco.
In an interview with the newspaper, Kaveladze was adamant that he didn’t do anything wrong because the law in Delaware at the time didn’t require company owners to be identified.
“What I see here is another Russian witch hunt in the United States,” Kaveladze said in a phone interview with The Times’ Raymond Bonner.
The article went on to say that Kaveladze assisted 50 Russians, who were non-residents of the U.S., obtain credit cards through Citibank. They used address of one of Kavaladze’s companies to get them.
Eventually, the bank accounts were closed and no disciplinary action was taken against Kaveladze.
3. Kaveladze’s Twitter Account Shows Him ‘Liking’ Many Tweets From Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders
Kaveladze is registered to two Twitter accounts that he rarely accesses. In one of them, @IkeUSA, one of the first tweets that he “liked” was from Donald Trump. It was a tweet Trump, then a presidential hopeful, sent out June 14, 2016. It just-so-happened to be a few days after the meeting with Trump Jr.
Kaveladze also “liked” a tweet about Trump just days after his inauguration. It showed Trump leaving First Lady Melania in the shadows when entering the White House on January 20. She is then taken inside by Barack and Michelle Obama.
Kaveladze’s personal Facebook account says that he resides in Los Angeles. On it, he’s posted many photos of the beach shorelines and sunsets.
In addition to living in L.A., Kavaladze appears to travel a lot, as a lot of photos are taken from London and other foreign countries.
4. Kaveladze Moved to the United States in 1991
Kaveladze was born in 1960 the Soviet Republic of Georgia and the then graduated from the Moscow Finance Academy in 1989, his LinkedIn says. He received his undergraduate degree in economics and graduate degree in accounting from the school and then moved to America two years later in 1991.
Once he arrived in the U.S., Kavaladze attended the University of New Haven, a private college in Connecticut. He received his MBA from the school and then almost immediately set up a company in Delaware.
That company was known as International Business Creations, and it’s the one that he used to help the Russian brokers wire the large sums of money. The company opened up bank accounts at Citibank and at Commercial Bank.
Five years later in 1996, The Times wrote that he expanded many more corporations in Delaware. One of the first was Euro-American Corporate Services, Inc., which was formed in 1999.
5. His Biography Says He Is Big Into Charitable Giving
Kaveladze serves on the US-Russia Business Council and the Georgian Association in the United States of America, Inc.
His biography claims that, “in addition to his diligent efforts in the business world,” he has donated “generously” to charities. One of those charities is Kiva Microfunds, an organization based in San Francisco that facilitates loans from private citizens to small businesses and students around the world.
“Donors such as Mr. Kaveladze are able to support these entities through microfinance institutions, with which Kiva has developed relationships,” the biography read.
Kaveladze’s Weebly page explains that he’s currently tasked with the oversight of Tvoy Dom, a chain of Russian DIY home improvement superstores. It also notes that he enjoys playing soccer, taking photos and importing and tasting Georgian wines whenever he has spare time.