A tax fraud lawsuit against Felix Sater, who is a native of Russia, was dismissed in a Manhattan court on Wednesday. Sater, who was once an associate of President Donald Trump, co-founded and operated a real estate company called Bayrock, and he and his business came under prosecution when a whistleblower filed charges on behalf of the state. In whistleblower cases, the attorney general’s office has the choice to intervene after the case is filed.
In this particular case, the whistleblower was Fred Oberlander, a lawyer who represented Felix Sater’s business partner, Jody Kriss, who had brought a lawsuit against the company for money-laundering, according to what an attorney who was in attendance at Wednesday’s hearing told a reporter. Oberlander had filed the charges due to the fact that certain information from his client’s previous case had been removed from the records by federal judges.
The attorney stated that he felt that Oberlander’s complaint was going to be dismissed because he’d used the removed confidential information from the prior case. After the proceedings, Sater’s attorney, Robert Wolf, revealed that the case had indeed been dismissed. The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had declined to intervene in this case last year, despite the false claim Fred Oberlander had made to the press about the Attorney General approving the case.
Robert Wolf, Sater’s lawyer, stated that the case was dismissed on procedural grounds instead of merits , noting that Oberlander and another lawyer named Richard Lerner, who was a part of the case against his client, had been sent to the Department of Justice twice for criminal contempt in regards to their misconduct in the case against Sater. Richard Lerner intends to appeal the court’s dismissal decision.
The initial lawsuit against Felix Sater and his company took place in 2010. It was filed by the Finance Director of the company, Jody Kriss, who alleged that Bayrock was engaged in a pattern of ongoing crimes that involved greed and several types of fraud. Kriss accused his former business partner, as well as the company’s other founder, Tevfik Arif, of withholding his earnings from him. A judge decided that the men could be charged with racketeering.
In the complaint filed by Kriss, he said that Sater and Arif started contacting the Trump Organization in 2003 with the intention of making deals to market some of their ideas under the Trump name. But Trump was not informed about Sater’s past criminal activity. In a deposition that was filed in 2007, Donald Trump said that his organization would have never agreed to do business with Sater if he had known about his criminal past. He also indicated that he wasn’t that familiar with Sater, although the Bayrock office was once located in close proximity to his in Trump Towers.
According to a source who is in the know about this matter, there were frequent meetings between Trump and Sater, and in another deposition, Sater said that he had met with President Trump regularly, as was previously reported in the Bloomberg publication. And Sater’s former business partner, Jody Kriss, stated that the president was very pleased by the loyalty that Sater had shown him. He also mentioned that Trump thought the connection that Sater had to Russia was very valuable.