Trump Media Group Investigated by Feds for Money Laundering (Report)

Investigators examined two loans wired to the former president’s social media company from two entities with suspected ties to Russia

Donald Trump
<> on March 3, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan.

Federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York investigated whether Donald Trump’s social media company violated money laundering statutes in connection with the acceptance of $8 million with suspected Russian ties, according to a new report.

Sources told The Guardian that towards the end of last year, federal prosecutors began examining two loans that were wired to Trump Media and Technology Group through the Caribbean from two entities that appeared to be controlled in part by an individual that appears to be a relative of an ally to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

TMTG, which owns Trump’s Truth Social platform, initially came under criminal investigation related to its potential merger with blank check company Digital World Acquisition Corporation. The merger, which has been delayed, has also faced separate scrutiny from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to a wire transfer receipt reviewed by the Guardian, the first $2 million payment was sent to TMTG in December 2021 from Paxum Bank registered in Dominica. The loan was reportedly sourced by DWAC CEO Patrick Orlando.

While Paxum Bank was identified as the beneficial owner, a promissory noted ES Family Trust as the lender. About two months after the first payment, ES Family Trust reportedly sent a second $6 million payment to TMTG. Angel Pacheco, the trustee of ES Family Trust, appears to have simultaneously been a director of Paxum Bank, the Guardian reported.

The Russian connection reportedly being investigated is an individual named Anton Postolnikov, a part-owner of Paxum Bank who appears to be a relative of Putin ally Aleksandr Smirnov, the head of Russian-controlled maritime company Rosmoport. Smirnov worked in the Russian government’s Central Office until 2017, was the first deputy minister of justice of Russia until 2014 and served in the executive office of the president during the majority of Putin’s first two terms.

Federal prosecutors’ interest in the payments reportedly started after TMTG’s ousted cofounder-turned-whistleblower Will Wilkerson alerted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to them through his attorneys Patrick Mincey, Stephen Bell and Phil Brewster. Wilkerson told The Guardian that the company’s former chief financial officer Phillip Juhan weighed returning the money, but that it never happened in part due to the financial stress it would have placed on the company.

While Trump was chairman of TMTG at the time the payments were made, it is unclear whether he was aware of the nature of the loans, the Guardian reports. However, the report notes that Trump’s eldest son and a TMTG board member, Donald Trump Jr., confirmed to the company’s lawyers to proceed with the first $2 million transaction.

The extent of Trump and TMTG’s exposure for money laundering is also unclear. According to the Guardian, the statutes broadly require prosecutors to show that the defendants knew the money was received through unlawful activity and that the transaction was designed to conceal the source.

Representatives for Wilkerson, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Trump Media and Technology Group, Digital World Acquisition Corp., Paxum Bank and Rosmoport did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.