The Real Deal New York

Trump Soho’s secret suitors: Keith Rubenstein and the head of one of Kazakhstan’s largest banks

Bloomberg report dives into Kazakh financial scandal and comes up with surprising names
December 11, 2017 11:16AM

From left: Trump Soho, Kenges Rakishev, Mukhtar Ablyazov and Keith Rubenstein (Credit: Trump Organization and Getty Images)

For years now, Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank, headed by Kenges Rakishev, has pursued the demise of its former chairman, Mukhtar Ablyazov, whom the bank alleges embezzled more than $6 billion.

Previous reports indicated that some of that money may have ended up in three Trump Soho condominiums via Ilyias Khrapunov, the man Ablyazov allegedly entrusted to conceal the money he invested overseas and who maintained a business relationship with Bayrock Group’s Felix Sater, one of the developers of Trump Soho.

But unknown until a Monday story in Bloomberg was that Rakishev himself once contemplated an investment in Trump Soho as recently as 2012, with Somerset Partners’ Keith Rubenstein as a potential investment partner.

Litigation active in London could expose just how intertwined the investments of Rakishev, Ablyazov and Trump really are, however, over a period of time that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is said to be examining in his wide-ranging investigation into how the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russian nationals during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Emails reviewed by Bloomberg indicate that developers Bayrock and Sapir Organization were shopping a partial or full in tower in 2012. According to information included in Rubenstein’s email to Rakishev, less than a quarter of the tower’s units had sold by that time.

“Don’t love the location, but at the right price could be interesting,” Rubenstein wrote.

Last month, the Trump Organization announced that the building’s owner, CIM Group, would buy out its licensing agreement spelling an end to Trump Soho’s run under the Trump brand[Bloomberg]Will Parker