Prior to President Donald Trump placing an economic embargo on Venezuela, Trump’s business was selling condos to supporters and associates of the country’s leader Nicolás Maduro.
More than six Venezuelans tied to either Maduro or his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, purchased Trump condos in New York City and South Florida before Trump became president, according to Politico. Several of the Venezuelans faced serious allegations of financial fraud in Venezuela.
The sales weren’t illegal, but the buyer’s backgrounds were suspicious, according to Politico. Real estate agents, developers and sales associates have little obligation to flag suspicious transactions where money laundering is alleged to have occurred.
In one instance, Roberto Rincon, who pleaded guilty in 2016 to bribing officials at Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, acquired a Trump condo in Florida. Other Venezuelan buyers at Trump properties include Juan Montes, a former corporate manager of finance and investments at PDVSA. A Marshall Islands shell company connected to a Montes business associate purchased a Trump Palace in Sunny Isles Beach in Florida for $1.95 million in April 2008.
One of the most well-known Venezuelan purchasers of Trump condos is Moris Beracha, a businessman who had ties to the Venezuelan government.
Last year, some of the country’s top officials purchased condos and high-end real estate in South Florida, including at the Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach and multimillion dollar houses in Cocoplum.