Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer and Port Washington resident, received more than $21 million in money that was allegedly part of a money-laundering scheme, according to court documents.
According to a report in the New York Daily News, Sater allegedly worked with a pair of Kazakh oligarchs, Mukhtar Ablyazov and Viktor Khrapunov, who are accused of embezzling $10 billion from their home country and hiding it in shell companies around the world.
Some of that money, the Daily News said, might have been used in business dealings with President Donald Trump.
Locally, Sater was known for his work with Chabad of Port Washington; he was named its man of the year in 2010 and 2014. He also owned a 3,600-square-foot mansion in Sands Point that he is now selling for $2.5 million.
But Sater became famous around the country when his name came up as a possible connection between Trump and Russian officials.
Sater helped to run the real estate development company Bayrock Group, the firm behind Trump SoHo and several other Trump projects during the 2000s. He served as the bridge between Trump and Russian officials in an attempt to build a Trump high-rise in Moscow. The ground was never broken on the tower, but Sater did try to use his Russian connection years later.
According to a report in The New York Times, Sater sent a series of emails to Trump’s lawyer in November 2015 in which he bragged about his connections to Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.
“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Mr. Sater wrote in one email to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to the Times report. “I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this.”
The emails caught the eye of Justice Department officials investigating possible connections between Russia and the Trump campaign, the Times reported.
Sater was interviewed last month by the Senate Intelligence Committee during a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill, according to ABC News.
Sater has had run-ins with the law before.
In 1991, Sater was sentenced to 15 months in a correctional facility after smashing a margarita glass across the face of a man with whom he was arguing. And in 1998, he was convicted of fraud in a penny stock pump-and-dump scheme orchestrated by the Russian Mafia. Sater avoided jail time by becoming an informant for the FBI.