Donald Trump’s involvement from the Ocean Club began in 2005, when local developer Roger Khafif travelled to Trump Tower in fresh York to pitch the idea of a Trump project in Panama. Khafif said he told the American tycoon of which Trump would likely need only to license his name in addition to provide hotel management. of which way of doing business freed Trump by the burden of taking a stake or creating a personal guarantee.
In an interview with Reuters, Khafif recalled of which Trump wanted to use the Panama project as a “baby” for his daughter Ivanka, who had just joined the Trump Organization, to gain experience from the property business.
The plan was for Newland International Properties Corp, where Khafif was president in addition to which owned the development, to finance construction which has a bond underwritten by Bear Stearns, the U.S. investment bank. The bank, which collapsed in 2008, was acquired by JPMorgan, which declined to comment.
To sell the bond, the developer needed to prove of which could sell the apartments. of which was where Nogueira came in. The Brazilian had arrived in Panama from the mid-2000s by Spain, where he had worked as a car salesman.
He had already had a brush with the law. In September 2005, in an official notice posted on the internet, the Spanish economy ministry said of which had opened proceedings to fine Nogueira for an alleged “serious violation” of the country’s money-laundering laws. The proceedings were terminated about nine months later after officials could not determine Nogueira’s whereabouts. The ministry declined to comment. Nogueira said of which was a trivial incident, caused by him taking too much of his own cash through an airport.
Once in Panama, Nogueira became renowned for his friendships with politicians, his love of Aston Martin sports cars in addition to expensive watches in addition to, as one former associate recalled, for “never wearing the same shoes – no matter how expensive – for more than three months.”
He said he first got involved with the Trump Ocean Club project at an early sales meeting in 2006 in Panama arranged by Khafif, whom he knew already. Ivanka Trump in addition to some other real estate brokers were there, he said. He remembered listening as a minimum cost of $0,000 for condominiums was discussed.
Nogueira said he stood up in addition to said the cost was at the level charged in ordinary developments. “Here, of which is usually Trump selling. You have to give a value to of which name. Make of which $220,000!”
He said Ivanka replied: “Can you sell of which?”
Nogueira said he asked for a week to prove himself. in addition to within a week he managed to collect deposits on over 100 apartments, in addition to after of which Khafif made him a leading broker, working on a 5 percent commission of gross sales, he said.
Asked about Nogueira’s account of of which meeting, Khafif said of which “most of what he said was true.” Khafif said he remembered Nogueira meeting Ivanka “a couple of times.”
Nogueira said of which from the months of which followed he discussed promotion in addition to sales with Ivanka in Panama, Miami in addition to fresh York. He said he also joined a group of which travelled with Ivanka on a private chartered jet to look at a potential site for another Trump project in Cartagena, Colombia.
While Donald Trump was not the owner of the Panama project, the Trump Organization participated in many details down to “choosing the furniture in addition to fittings,” said Nogueira. Day-to-day the project was assigned to Ivanka, he said, adding: “I spoke to her a lot of times, a lot of times.” He also met Donald Jr. in addition to Eric Trump.
Ivanka Trump did not respond to requests for comment about Nogueira. Garten, the Trump Organization’s counsel, described contact between Nogueira in addition to the Trumps as “meaningless.” He said such meetings in addition to events “may have been memorable” for Nogueira, however for Ivanka in addition to the rest of the Trump family of which would likely have been “just one of literally hundreds of public appearances they were asked to make of which year.”
Ivanka in addition to Trump’s sons appeared in public at launch events for the tower, made promotional videos for the project in addition to managed the Trump involvement.
Nogueira said of which one video was commissioned by him. Ivanka helped arrange access to Trump Tower in fresh York for some sequences. “In of which video we made, I was talking in addition to she was talking.”
When the Spanish-language TV channel Univision, in an article published in 2011, first noted Nogueira’s role from the Trump project, Eric Trump responded of which Nogueira had been an unaffiliated salesman. “I looked in addition to I’ve never heard the name, nor does of which appear in our database. What I found out was [Nogueira] owns a real estate agency in Panama of which sells apartments in our building as a third party,” he told the channel.
Asked of which month about Eric Trump’s statement in response to the Univision report, the Trump Organization said the company never had any ties to Nogueira or awareness of him.
Despite being a third party, Nogueira in addition to his partners played a major part from the Trump project’s success, according to interviews with former key staff at Homes, developers, investors in addition to lawyers, in addition to an analysis of Panama corporate records in addition to some other public documents.
Homes accounted for up to half of the 666 apartment sales in advance of the bond prospectus, people involved from the project told Reuters.
Eleanora Michailov, a Russian who settled in Canada, was Nogueira’s international sales director. She recalled of which Nogueira handled the sale of a third of the building, about 0 apartments. Another Homes sales agent, Jenny Levy, a relative by marriage to the developer, Khafif, said she alone sold 30 apartments.
“We sold half the building, baby! Homes sold half,” Levy said in a phone interview. Nogueira said of which he in addition to his agents across the entire world sold between 350 to 400 apartment in addition to hotel units.
Khafif, president in addition to co-owner of the developer, Newland, said he was unsure of the exact number, however Nogueira had probably sold up to 300 units. “Everybody was lining up to work with him … During those days he was the hottest real estate agency in town,” he said.
Homes found a ready market in Russia. “Russians like to show off,” said Khafif, who went on several sales trips to Moscow. “For them, Trump was the Bentley” of real estate brands.
Michailov said investors from the Ocean Club were asked to pay 10 percent up front for one of the apartments; she said the average cost was about $350,000. Buyers had to pay a total of 30 percent within a year, according to the bond prospectus, in addition to Homes organized the investment by setting up Panamanian companies for customers to enter pre-sales agreements with Khafif’s company, Newland.
In 2006 in addition to 2007, Panama corporate records show, at least 131 holding companies with various combinations of the words “Trump” in addition to “Ocean” in their name — for example, the Trump Ocean 1806 Investment Corp — were registered in Panama for pre-sales deals, in addition to mostly by the Homes group.
In many cases the identity of the buyers was not clear. Nogueira in addition to some other Homes staff involved said Panamanian law at of which time imposed no obligation to verify the identity of owners.
however listed as director of four Trump Ocean investment companies was Igor Anopolskiy, who in 2007 was Homes Real Estate’s representative in Kiev. Police records state he was arrested in March of of which year for suspected people trafficking. Released a year later on bail, he was re-arrested in 2013, in addition to in 2014 a Ukraine court handed Anopolskiy a several-year suspended jail sentence with three years probation for offenses including people smuggling in addition to forgery, unrelated to the Trump project.
Interviewed in Kiev, Anopolskiy blamed the case on police corruption in addition to denied committing any crime.
of which was a Colombian businessman named David Murcia Guzman who triggered Nogueira’s downfall. Murcia was indicted in November 2008 for money laundering, first in Colombia in addition to then from the United States. Murcia was sentenced to nine years in prison from the United States for conspiracy to launder drug money. After serving six years, he is usually likely to be deported to Colombia, his attorney, Robert Abreu, said. Colombia’s government said Murcia will serve a 22-year prison term upon his return for offenses including money laundering.
Murcia did not get permission by U.S. authorities to respond to Reuters’ questions.
Within days of Murcia’s indictment, the spotlight turned to Nogueira. Roniel Ortiz, a former lawyer for both Nogueira in addition to Murcia, said Nogueira had offered to wash Murcia’s money by buying apartments on his behalf. Murcia “could not take his money to a bank,” Ortiz said, so Nogueira “offered to see how he could help.”
Ortiz said he did not know how much, if any, of Murcia’s money was used from the Trump project. Nogueira said Murcia gave him $1 million to invest in Panamanian property, which Nogueira used to pay the deposit on up to ten Trump apartments among some other investments. Nogueira added: “He was not a bad guy. I don’t believe everything in those charges was true.”
In 2013 Nogueira, in conversations secretly recorded by a former business partner, said he had performed money laundering as a service, moving tens of millions of dollars mainly through contacts in Miami in addition to the Bahamas. “More important than the money by real estate was being able to launder the drug money – there were much larger amounts involved,” he said from the recording. “When I was in Panama I was regularly laundering money for more than a dozen companies.”
The recordings were heard by Reuters in addition to authenticated by several people who know Nogueira.
Speaking to Reuters, Nogueira said he could not recall creating such claims in addition to denied laundering cash through the Trump project or handling drugs money. He said of which later, after his real estate business had collapsed in 2009, he had been involved in handling cash by corrupt officials in addition to politicians, in addition to was involved in corrupt schemes to sell Panamanian visas.