‘Russian mafia link’ to Trump golf course probed

‘Russian mafia link’ to Trump golf course probed
Donald Trump’s son Eric playing golf with friends in Doonbeg

Potential Russian mafia funding links with Donald Trump’s five-star Doonbeg golf resort in Co Clare have been discussed behind closed doors at a US intelligence committee hearing, writes Juno McEnroe.

New transcripts released from a November hearing of the committee examining Russian connections with the US president reveal concerns raised about the resort.

Research firm founder Glenn Simpson, answering queries on Russian interference in the US presidential election, said he had concerns about financing for Doonbeg from “unknown sources”.

Mr Simpson, of Fusion GPS, was asked about claims the Trump organisation laundered money for Russian organised crime figures.

Fusopn GPS was hired by the Hillary Clinton Democratic campaign in 2016 as it looked for information on the businessman and Republican candidate.

Donald Trump at Doonbeg Golf Course.
Donald Trump at Doonbeg Golf Course.

Asked about deals involving the now US president, Mr Simpson spoke about concerns about Trump projects in Panama and Toronto, saying: “Those both got a lot of fraud associated with them, a lot of fraud allegations, a lot of activity I would say smacks of fraud, and a lot of Russian mafia figures listed as buyers, who may or may not have actually put money into it.

“The other one that was concerning to us was the golf courses in Scotland and Ireland.”

Democratic congressman Adam Schiff asked if Russian money was involved. Mr Simpson confirmed, after looking at records for the Co Clare resort, that there were strange patterns.

“We saw what Eric Trump said about Russian money being available for the golf course projects, making remarks about having unlimited sums available,” said Mr Simpson.

“Because Mr Trump’s companies are generally not publicly traded and don’t do a lot of public disclosure, we can only have a limited look into the financing of those projects.

“But because the Irish courses and the Scottish courses are under UK, Anglo corporate law, they file financial statements. So we were able to get the financial statements.

“And they don’t, on their face, show Russian involvement, but what they do show is enormous amounts of capital flowing into these projects from unknown sources and, or at least on paper it says it’s from the Trump Organisation, but it’s hundreds of millions of dollars.

“And these golf courses are just, you know, they’re sinks. They don’t actually make any money.”

Doonbeg Golf Course.
Doonbeg Golf Course.

Mr Trump bought the Doonbeg resort in 2014 for €8m and vowed to invest €45m. Doonbeg recorded pre-tax losses of €2.2m for 2016.

At the hearing, Congressman Tom Rooney was fascinated “about him financing Doonbeg in Ireland through money we can’t really trace but has sort of the fingerprints of Russian mobsters”.

The Republican added that “if we knew that Donald Trump was working with the Russian mafia to fund Doonbeg in Ireland, then there’s no way he would be president”.

Mr Trump has dismissed the Fusion GPS dossier as “phoney” and “disproven and paid for by Democrats”.

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