Trump And The ENRC Oligarch ‘Trio’
A full-color 28-page presentation by the Bayrock Group, produced in 2007, reveals that the equity financing and “strategic partners” for Trump projects–the Trump SoHo hotel-condo in New York as well as other proposed developments in Florida and Arizona–will come from two sources. One of the those is FL Group, a publicly traded investment company in Iceland that capsized a year later. The other listed partner is Alexander Machkevich and the Eurasia Group, which he controls with Chodiev and Ibragimov (the Trio). If Trump and the Trio have ever met, it’s not apparent. Only the Trump SoHo was ever finished. Eventually Bayrock’s involvement in Trump projects all but disappeared. It’s unclear whether the Trio ever put money into a Trump project. The Trio did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Billionaire oligarchs Patokh Chodiev, Alijan Ibragimov and Alexander Machkevich have long been known as the Trio in Kazakhstan, where they built their fortunes in mining, oil and gas and banking. In the 1990s they partnered in something known as the Chodiev Group, joining with Michael Cherney, who the FBI believed was a major Russian organized-crime figure. Cherney has long denied the accusation, and a decade-long mega-probe of him by U.S. law enforcement–as well as similar probes in Israel, Spain and Switzerland–resulted in no indictments.
Uzbekistan-born Chodiev, who FORBES estimates has a net worth of $1.8 billion, was the central figure in a case involving the purchase in 1996 of real estate by the Trio and the wife of a Kazakh prime minister. The Trio claims the purchase was made on behalf of the prime minister because he wanted to keep it secret. The prime minister, Akhezan Kazhegeldin, says the purchase was never completed but alleges it was subsequently bought by individuals linked to the Kazakh regime.
The Moscow Times once tagged Machkevich the “secret treasurer” for Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev’s 1999 reelection campaign. In the early 2000s Machkevich, Chodiev and Ibragimov were accused of money laundering in Belgium, where prosecutors believed their funds to be of “criminal origin.”
The case triggered U.S. and Swiss probes of offshore bank accounts linked to Nazarbayev and other officials, but the cases were closed with no indictments. (The attorney general of Kazakhstan called the Trio “the largest investors in our economy,” whose funds have been deemed legal.) Belgian authorities accused engineering giant Tractebel of paying secret commissions to the Trio for access to the Kazakh government. Tractebel filed a complaint against the Trio, alleging they committed fraud and money laundering and formed a criminal group. All the cases were settled; the Trio paid a fine to the Belgium government with no admission of guilt. FORBES estimates Machkevich’s net worth at $1.9 billion.
Uzbekistan-born Ibragimov, the third member of the Trio, spends much of his time on a reported 26-cabin, $200 million yacht. FORBES pegs his net worth at $1.9 billion. He, too, has spent many years being investigated, without any charges being filed. In 2013 metals giant ENRC, controlled by the Trio, was probed by the U.K. government for corruption related to activities in Africa and Kazakhstan, and is still being investigated. ENRC went private, and the Trio partnered with the Kazakh government to buy up the 46% of ENRC shares they didn’t already own.
UPDATE: Following publication, Patokh Chodiev told Forbes that he denies any connection to Donald Trump, the Trump Organization or Bayrock Group.