Was a building purchased in 2015 for $14.25 million, by a former Bayrock-Trump associate, linked to the Khrapunov money laundering case?

  • On November 17, 2015, Daniel Ridloff signed a $14.25 million deed to purchase a six-story office building at 74 Broad Street in Manhattan.
  • An article about the transaction in The Real Deal lists investor Daniel Ridloff as vice president of SDG Investment Fund.
  • Daniel Ridloff and Felix Sater did business with the Khrapunov family, who are accused of laundering money through the Swiss Development Group — which created the SDG Investment Fund.

The Trump-Russia investigation has included ample coverage of Trump’s dubious business connections, including those to ex-felon and Bayrock business partner Felix Sater. Several articles have shown the connections from Bayrock and Felix Sater to the Khrapunov family, accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars of assets from Kazakhstan and allegedly laundering some of the money into real estate in the U.S.

Many of the deals done by Felix Sater with the Khrapunov family included his partner, Daniel Ridloff, who also worked at Bayrock and like Sater, worked briefly for the Trump Organization. Ridloff’s LinkedIn profile lists experience in Acquisitions & Finance with the Trump Organization from January to August 2010.

A New York City real estate deal involving Daniel Ridloff, mentioned briefly in a December 2015 Real Deal article, does not have any evident connections to Felix Sater or to funding from Kazakh investors. However recent reporting on Ridloff and his work with Felix Sater on several large Kazakh-funded deals, makes Ridloff’s 2015 transaction worth a closer look.

Ridloff, Sater & Khrapunov Money Laundering Case

Following are some of the recent news stories connecting the Bayrock Group, Felix Sater, and Daniel Ridloff to the Khrapunov family (father Viktor, son Ilyas, daughter Elvira), and to Ilyas Khrapunov’s father-in-law, Mukhtar Ablyazov, who is accused of embezzling $6 billion from BTA Bank in Kazakhstan when he served as its chairman. These stories have taken on growing significance as they raise questions about whether or not any of the Kazakhstan deals were connected to potential money laundering through Trump properties.

An old Bayrock presentation archived by Dutch documentary program Zembla describes a Bayrock partnership to invest in Hotel du Parc in Geneva, which was purchased by the Swiss Development Group in 2008. SDG counted Ilyas Khrapunov among its shareholders.

Around the same time that Bayrock described itself as a partner in Hotel du Parc (with SDG), Bayrock was pursuing multiple real estate deals with the Trump Organization, including Trump Soho and Trump International Hotel & Tower Fort Lauderdale.

According to an October 2016 Financial Times story Felix Sater and Daniel Ridloff, alumni of the Bayrock-Trump partnership, worked closely with Viktor Khrapunov’s daughter Elvira Kudryashova in 2012, serving as directors of a company in which she invested $3 million as part of her efforts to secure a U.S. investor visa.

An article in McClatchy describes another transaction in which Sater and Ridloff:

“facilitated the purchase in 2013 of three condos in the Trump SoHo for $3.1 million by companies tied to the Khrapunov children, Ilyas Khrapunov and Elvira Kudryashova.”

McClatchy also notes:

“In 2012 and 2013 alone, Sater and Ridloff worked with the Khrapunovs on more than $40 million in real estate and investment deals. All came after Kazakhstan added Viktor to the Interpol wanted list in February 2012.”

An article by Richard Behar on DCReport.org describes a lawsuit between plaintiff Tri-County Mall Investors and defendants Felix Sater and Daniel Ridloff that was:

“linked to an alleged multi-billion-dollar global money laundering scheme originating in Kazakhstan.”

The lawsuit states that Tri-County Mall Investors has a sole member called Triadou, which according to it’s president Nicholas Bourg, is an investment vehicle wholly-owned and controlled by SDG (Swiss Development Group).

In a declaration related to a lawsuit filed by the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan and BTA Bank against Mukhtar Ablyazov, Viktor and Ilyas Khrapunov, and Triadou, Nicholas Bourg describes how he established Triadou, owned by SDG.

“In or about 2011, Ilyas contacted me seeking to create a real estate fund that would be a subsidiary of an entity controlled by his family, the Swiss Development Group, formally, SDG Capital S.A.(“SDG”). The real estate fund proposed by Ilyas would invest in real estate opportunities worldwide, including in the United States.

At Ilyas’s direction, I formed a series of entities under the laws of Luxembourg for the purpose of investing his family’s funds in real estate. One of these entities was Triadou, an investment vehicle wholly owned and controlled by SDG. SDG itself was owned and controlled by Ilyas and his family, and used to conceal the movement and investment of his family’s money, including that of Ablyazov.”

According to Behar, Sater and Ridloff “ran the U.S. arm of the Khrapunov’s SDG entity at the time.” Behar noted in his article that Ridloff’s LinkedIn bio “refers to himself as the former vice president of SDG-Investment Fund.” However this reference no longer appears on Ridloff’s bio, which now includes a generic ‘Vice President European Investment Fund’ role from August 2010 to May 2014.

The various articles and lawsuits connecting Daniel Ridloff and Felix Sater with the Khrapunov family and with the Swiss Development Group/SDG, provide context for Ridloff’s business dealings prior to November 2015. The Real Deal article on Ridloff’s $14.25 million building purchase, identified him as VP of SDG Investment Fund, and the transaction took place shortly after Sater and Ridloff completed many large real estate deals with SDG.

November 2015 $14.25 million Real Estate Deal

The Real Deal briefly reported on the 2015 transaction:

“A six-story office building at 74 Broad Street in the Financial District sold for $14.3 million. The buyer is investor Daniel Ridloff, vice president of SDG Investment Fund.”

The $14.25 million November 17, 2015 deed for 74 Broad Street shows the buyer is SKS Broad Street LLC, and the documents are signed by Daniel Ridloff, member.

In other filings Daniel Ridloff is listed as authorized signatory. While the Real Deal described Ridloff as the investor, it’s not clear if he is the beneficial owner of SKS Broad Street LLC, or if he was authorized to sign the deal filings on behalf of someone else.

SKS Broad Street LLC is listed in New York State corporate records at 312 Spring Street, New York, the location of Barone Management, noted as the most recent company on Daniel Ridloff’s LinkedIn bio. The Barone Management website describes the firm as a dual platform construction and development firm operating in the New York City metropolitan market. However it is common for companies like SKS Broad Street LLC to share the address of a representative, without disclosing the identity of the true owner.

On the day of the November 17, 2015 purchase, Daniel Ridloff on behalf of SKS Broad Street LLC, signed a mortgage agreement for $15.8 million with Emerald Creek Capital LLC, an amount slightly higher than the purchase price. The mortgage was assigned to another company a few months later.

As noted previously, there is no direct evidence showing that the 74 Broad Street deal is connected to Ridloff’s prior business association with the Swiss Development Group or to any deals with the Khrapunovs or Ablyazov.

However, the timing of the deal and the reference to Ridloff as an executive with SDG Investment Fund make the transaction worth a closer look by those investigating Bayrock, Sater, Ridloff, and their connection to Kazakhstan and to alleged money laundering.