Tale of Trump, part­ner in Azer­bai­jan project

Business Mirror - - THE WORLD - AP

WASH­ING­TON— Six months be­fore he launched his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Don­ald Trump announced a new real- es­tate project in Baku, Azer­bai­jan. The part­ner was Anar Mam­madov, the son of a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter sus­pected by US diplo­mats of laun­der­ing money for Iran’s mil­i­tary and de­scribed as “no­to­ri­ously cor­rupt.”

Eigh­teen months later, and only weeks af­ter daugh­ter Ivanka Trump re­leased a pub­lic­ity video of the nearly fin­ished project, ref­er­ences to the Baku project have dis­ap­peared from Trump’s web site. Trump’s gen­eral coun­sel, Alan Garten, told The As­so­ci­ated Press ( AP) that it was on hold for eco­nomic reasons.

Trump of­ten talks of hir­ing the best peo­ple and sur­round­ing him­self with peo­ple he can trust. In prac­tice, how­ever, he and his ex­ec­u­tives have, at times, ap­peared to over­look de­tails about the back­ground of peo­ple he has cho­sen as busi­ness part­ners, such as whether they had du­bi­ous as­so­ci­a­tions, had been con­victed of crimes, faced ex­tra­di­tion or in­flated their ré­sumés.

The Trump camp’s vet­ting skills are im­por­tant, as the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee turns to se­lect­ing a run­ning mate. They would be­come even more cru­cial if he won the White House.

As pres­i­dent, Trump would have to name more than 3,600 po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees to se­nior gov­ern­ment jobs, in­clud­ing crit­i­cal po­si­tions oversee­ing the na­tional se­cu­rity and the econ­omy.

In the Azer­bai­jani case, Garten said the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion had per­formed metic­u­lous due dili­gence on the com­pany’s part­ners, and had hired a third- party firm that spe­cial­izes in back­ground in­tel­li­gence and search­ing global sanc­tions, war­rant and watch lists at home and abroad.

But Trump had not re­searched the al­le­ga­tions against the Baku part­ner’s fa­ther be­cause the fa­ther was not a party to the deal, Garten said.

Ex­perts on Azer­bai­jan were baf­fled by that con­clu­sion.

“What­ever the Trump peo­ple thought they were do­ing, that wasn’t re­al­ity,” said Richard Kau­zlarich, a US am­bas­sador to Azer­bai­jan un­der Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton in the 1990s who went on to work un­der the di­rec­tor of na­tional in­tel­li­gence dur­ing the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion.

A leaked State De­part­ment diplo­matic ca­ble pub­lished by Wik­iLeaks in 2010 de­scribed Anar’s fa­ther, Ziya Mam­madov, as renowned for cor­rup­tion and pre­sumed to be a silent part­ner to a for­mer se­nior Ira­nian gen­eral and re­puted money laun­derer, Ka­mal Darvishi.

Ziya Mam­madov did not re­spond to a tele­phone mes­sage the AP left with his min­istry in Baku or to e- mails to the Azer­bai­jan Em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton. Anar Mam­madov did not re­spond to AP’s e- mails or mes­sages sent to his so­cial- me­dia ac­counts or mes­sages left with his com­pany.

In a sep­a­rate case, Trump was asked in a 2013 de­po­si­tion about why he had not per­formed bet­ter checks on a busi­ness part­ner— a man Trump later deemed “a dud” af­ter the failure of a Fort Laud­erdale, Florida, ho­tel project. Trump said he con­sid­ered word- of- mouth in­quiries to be ad­e­quate.

“We heard good things about him from a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent peo­ple,” he said about his part­ner, dur­ing the de­po­si­tion. “That’s true with the pres­i­dent of the United States. You get ref­er­ences and some­times it’s good and some­times it’s not so good.”

Trump’s lawyer, Garten, who was in the room at the time of Trump’s state­ment, told the AP that it was un­rea­son­able to ex­pect Trump to know the com­pany’s full dili­gence ef­forts.

AP/AIDA SULTANOVA

THE Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel, the high­est build­ing, is seen in Baku, Azer­bai­jan.

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