Putin Affiliate Made Suspicious Funds To Nobu

Ben Kothe / BuzzFeed Stories; Getty Images

The high-end sushi, the famous chef, and the gorgeous customers have made Nobu, a restaurant and royal hotel with more than 40 locations in 20 countries, one of the most famous in the world.

But one aspect of the chain’s growth remains a mystery: Nobu received more than $ 600,000 which his bank considered suspicious, as part of a close alliance with his close friend Vladimir Putin, who also has strong ties to the White House.

His ally, Russia’s billionaire author Aras Agalarov, was instrumental in the 2016 Trump Tower conference where senior members of the Trump campaign are expected to receive land from Hillary Clinton.

Photos of Sasha Mordovets / Getty

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and billionaire Aras Agalarov saw him at the 2013 awards ceremony in Moscow.

Agalarov’s company, Crocus International, has two Nobu restaurants in Moscow, one in the center of the city and a second in the Crocus City megamall, the pageant of the beautiful Miss Universe 2013 pageant hosted by Donald Trump. Government secret documents reveal, however, that for a time, Crocus International paid large sums of money for Nobu licensing through non-existent companies, which experts say is a red flag that could possibly steal money.

The move prompted bank investigators to threaten to withdraw all cash. Others came through a Latvian bank that had previously been closed for allowing Russian currency.

One aspect of chain growth so far has remained a mystery.

Suspicious banking activities were sent to the US Treasury department’s Financial Crimes Enforcing Network, called FinCEN. He wrote, along with thousands of pages of other publications, in response to requests from the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of a Russian inquiry into the 2016 election. the Mueller.

The data is part of more than 2,100 reports, or SARs, which BuzzFeed News shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 media organizations around the world as part of the FinCEN Files survey. By law, banks are required to write such documents when they become aware of any hidden or other financial risks. SARs do not have evidence of guilt, but they do support research and intelligence.

FinCEN files also open a window on economic and social media. They reflect suspicions from unknown maritime companies, such as those used by Crocus International, around the world. From Hollywood entertainment to homes in Venezuela, almost no economic sector in the world has not been affected by the shadow of the economy – not even the A5 Wagyu cow that Nobu serves, in need, for $ 38 ounce.

Artyom Korotayev / TASS / Alamy Stock Photo

From left: Aras Agalarov, Robert De Niro, Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa, and Emin Agalarov at the opening of Nobu Crocus City restaurants on November 9, 2015.

Agalarov is an unexpected partner in the hospitality business written by Robert De Niro, an actor who criticized Trump. From the platform at the 2018 National Board of Review awards, De Niro denounced Trump as a “stupid fool.” He said he would not allow the president to go to any of Nob’s restaurants. In contrast, Agalarov is said to have sat at a table for his 58th birthday.

De Niro did not respond to a number of requests for comment through his representatives.

Agalarov is an unexpected partner in the hospitality business written by Robert De Niro, an actor who criticized Trump.

SAR does not say that De Niro either participated in or knew of the incident, nor does he blame Nobu, whom the bank calls “unaffected.” Nobu’s corporation manager was aware of debt repayment, and he made several attempts to stop Agalarovs from making production.

Scott Balber, Agalarov’s lawyer, said all the maritime companies listed in the SAR are Agalarov’s, as well as other similar companies that he uses as his business.

Asked about the incident, he said: “Most people do not run their business in anticipation of a Buzzfeed reporter’s interview a few years later, based on SARS which was released illegally.” He said there were no problems.

Back in 2009, Nobu wanted to enter Russia, and a family of billions of real estate agents opened the way.

“Well, it just so happens that we have found Agalarovs now,” De Niro told Moscow News when the first Nobu Moscow opened in April 2009. “Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

As Nobu and Crocus International prepare to open a second restaurant at the Crocus City mall, the U.S. bank oversaw a financial transaction that looked like a fish.

Nobu Restaurant Group requires its partners to pay for the ticket as well as items such as clothing and electric stoves. But in late 2014, Moscow’s money began to come in not from Crocus International, an organization that had signed a patent agreement, but from ports that were known to steal and evade taxes, such as the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, and Belize.

In August 2015, according to a suspicious report sent by First Republic Bank to the Treasure department, a Nobu company secretary wrote a Crocus International reminder that the money should be sent from the company’s account. He told BuzzFeed News that he had approached “several times” asking them to stop sending the money through maritime companies.

Superintendent Merrick Rhodes said he was aware that the First Republic could monitor money from an unknown source. “That’s why we asked it to come through one of the parenting companies,” he told BuzzFeed News. “Obviously our bank wants us to get away from them.”

By the time Nobu Crocus City opened in November of that year, investigators from the bank had seen more than $ 200,000 in what they considered to be questionable. Denso Trading Ltd., registered in the United Kingdom by a Cypriot company in Russia, a non-profit organization, sent more than $ 90,000 and then melted down. Denso sent money through Trasta Komercbanka, a Latvian financial company that specializes in fines.

The First Republic continued to report suspicious reports to the Treasure department – and to adjust payments. According to BuzzFeed News reports that the bank issued nine reports between November 2014 and June 2017, recording $ 602,886 from 10 foreign companies. In a June 2017 report, the bank said the light “was linked to the adoption of wireless charging systems.” Geo Business Invest Corp., which the bank recognized as a bribery company in Belize, sent more than $ 170,000. Some SARs stored by First Republic also refer to the use of regional companies.

The First Republic began committing atrocities in June 2017, threatening to withhold funds that did not come from the Crocus International account. First Republic Bank declined to comment on the sale.

Rhodes, Nobu’s manager, told BuzzFeed News that in early 2017, licensing agreements in two restaurants were transferred to another company, NIME LLC, of ​​Aras Agalarov’s son, Emin. Since then, he said, there have been no payments from anyone other than the company mentioned in the agreement

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