In 1998, Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant to the US, pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering. Sater had been implicated in a $40 million stock fraud scheme involving Mafia figures (e.g., the Genovese and Bonanno crime families) and Russian criminals. To avoid prison, Sater became a confidential FBI informant for more than a decade, informing on the Mafia and on national security-related matters. His information led to the conviction of over 20 people, including members of La Cosa Nostra.
In 2003, Sater joined The Bayrock Group, a real estate development company controlled by Tevfik Arif. Arif was a former Soviet commerce official from Kazakhstan. The Bayrock Group later moved its headquarters to Trump Tower in New York City, just below Donald Trump’s office.
Sater, Arif, and their associate at Bayrock, Salvatore Lauria, worked with the Trump Organization on several projects including Trump SoHo, a New York condo-hotel building project. Like Sater, Lauria was also an FBI informant who apparently wore a court-ordered ankle monitor to his office in Trump Tower. Sater’s Trump Organization business card identified him as “senior adviser to Donald Trump,” and Sater used Trump Organization email and office addresses and a telephone number previously used by a Trump Organization attorney. Source
In 2010, Tevfik Arif was on board a luxury yacht raided by police in Turkey, who were investigating a suspected prostitution ring that catered to wealthy businessmen.
In 2011, Donald Trump settled a lawsuit filed by buyers of units in Trump SoHo, who claimed Trump and his children had defrauded them by making inflated claims about brisk sales in the struggling project. During the lawsuit, it was revealed that Bayrock had occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia. Source1 Source2 Source3
From September–November 2015, and possibly throughout 2016, Sater worked with Michael Cohen, a Trump Organization executive and Donald Trump’s lawyer, to attempt to license the Trump brand for a new “Trump Tower” skyscraper in Moscow. As part of this effort, Donald Trump signed a letter of intent to sell a license to the Trump brand to Russia.
Sater lined up financing via VTB Bank, a Russian bank under US sanctions at the time. Sater further claimed he would arrange for Putin to publicly praise Trump. Sater’s publicly released emails included: “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it… I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.” Also: “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.” Source
During an interview with the Associated Press on December 2, 2015, Donald Trump claimed he was “not that familiar with” Felix Sater, and referred the reporter to the Trump Organization. Attorney Alan Garten with the Trump Organization then falsely claimed that Sater’s only role was to prospect for high-end real estate deals for a period of six months in 2010. Source
In February 2017, Sater worked with Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen to have a document hand-delivered to Michael Flynn, describing a proposed “peace plan” between Russia and Ukraine. The plan involved the US dropping all sanctions on Russia; holding a Ukrainian referendum on whether to lease Crimea to Russia for 50–100 years; and disseminating “kompromat” on Ukrainian President Poroshenko purportedly showing corruption among him and his closest associates, with the goal of installing a more Russia-friendly government in Ukraine. The plan was prepared by Andrii Artemenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker who joined their Parliament in 2014 and opposed their new President Poroshenko. Artemenko indicated that top aides to Vladimir Putin had provided input. Artemenko got the plan to Cohen via Felix Sater. Source
As evidenced by his success as an FBI informant, Sater maintained ties with criminal and mafia organizations for the 10 years following his conviction in 1998. This included the time frame when Sater joined Bayrock, when he did business with the Trump Organization, and when his office was in the Trump Tower in the floor below Donald Trump.
Also, the statement in the New York Times that Sater helped the FBI “deal with an unexplained national security matter involving his foreign connections” presents many questions. Just who exactly was in the circles Trump was running in?
It is not plausible that Trump didn’t know who Sater was, and clearly both Trump and Garten lied to the AP to conceal the ongoing negotiations for the planned Trump Tower in Moscow, in which Sater was closely involved.