Today a Russian billionaire was arrested on corruption charges in Monaco. That same billionaire had a business deal with Donald Trump that is now under investigation in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. The Russian oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev, who has close ties with Vladimir Putin, purchased a Florida mansion from Donald Trump in 2008 for $95 million, more than twice the $41 million Trump had paid for the property only four years before. While Robert Mueller plays his cards close to the vest, presumably among the reasons this transaction would be of interest to Mueller in his investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is that such transactions could show that Trump had business ties with Russia, and with key figures in Russia, which Trump did not fully disclose in his financial disclosure information and which could have made Trump beholden to Russian interests.
Rybolovlev, who is also the president of president of AS Monaco (Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club), was arrested in Monaco today on charges of corruption and bribery (“trafficking in active and passive influence”, according to The Hill). Those charges emerged after an investigation found an email trail revealing that Rybolovlev, through his lawyer, had regularly offered gifts of value like event tickets to law enforcement officials, including a helicopter trip to Ryobolovlev’s ski resort that was given to Monaco’s justice minister, who was forced to resign in the wake of the scandal. According to The Hill:
A Russian billionaire who purchased a mansion from President Trump in 2008 in a business deal that is now being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller was arrested Tuesday in Monaco on corruption charges. Dmitri (Dmitry) Rybolovlev, president of AS Monaco, was taken into custody by authorities in Monaco on Tuesday and is under investigation for charges of corruption and “trafficking in active and passive influence,” according to French news service Le Monde. Rybolovlev was the purchaser of a Florida mansion from Trump in 2008 for $95 million, a sharp increase from the $41 million Trump had paid for the property just four years earlier…His purchase of the mansion is one of several Trump business transactions that Bloomberg News reported last year were under investigation by Mueller, who is probing allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election. In Monaco, Rybolovlev has been under investigation ever since text messages surfaced revealing that his lawyer was regularly in contact with top law enforcement officials in Monaco, enticing them with event tickets and other perks, according to the (New York) Times.
Rybolovlev never lived in the mansion he bought for a premium price from Trump, and in fact tore it down as part of splitting the property into three separate parcels, two of which have reportedly been sold for a total of $71 million. So, ten years after purchasing the property from Trump, Rybolovlev is still at least $24 million away from recovering the total he spent on the property back in 2008.
An unusually high number of the people in Trump‘s orbit seem to face such legal challenges as Rybolovlev now faces. Here one might pause to consider a quote credited to the ancient Greek storyteller Aesop: “A man is known by the company he keeps”.