A qui tam lawsuit was recently dropped in a Manhattan Supreme Court due to inadmissible evidence against a former associate of Donald Trump. Felix Sater, a native Russian, was the target of a lawsuit dating back to 2015 filed by two attorneys, Frederick Oberlander and Richard Lerner. The lawsuit brought against Bayrock Group, LLC states that Sater, along with Tevfik Arif Bayrock and others, laundered millions of dollars over a period of at least ten years.
The state did not intervene in the case although the attorney general’s office said it would continue to monitor the situation for the benefit of the state. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman notified the New York Supreme Court in February 2016 that Oberlander had issued a press release stating the attorney general had agreed to move forward with the suit. Schneiderman denied that claim made by Oberlander, saying he specifically said he was not going to get involved.
Frederick Oberlander has been involved in cases brought against the company for many years said his current case against the group stemmed from a suit brought against the company by a former business partner of Sater’s, Jody Kriss. Kriss’ lawsuit claimed that Bayrock had mob ties and continued to commit crimes that of which are typically associated with mob activity. Kriss also claimed that Sater and Arif never told Trump about Sater’s criminal history.
The inadmissible evidence was confidential information that had been ordered to be removed according to an attorney who was present during the hearing. This evidence was what ultimately led to the case being dropped. Justice Ramos dismissed Oberlander’s suit, stating, “I never want to see this case again”. Sater and his lawyer, Robert Wolf, confirmed the dismissal, stating it had been dismissed “on the merits”. Wolf also stated Oberlander and Lerner both had been reprimanded previously in the courtroom and had been referred to the Department of Justice twice for criminal contempt.
Nevertheless, Oberlander’s co-plantiff, Lerner, plans to continue pursuing the case, according to a source who posted on Twitter. Oberlander filed an appeal November 27, 2017.
Felix Slater, along with the group’s founder, Tevfik Arif, has been accused of many financial crimes, including embezzlement and money laundering. This criminal past was completely unknown to Trump at the time the lawsuit was brought against the company in 2015.
Trump is listed in that 2015 lawsuit as a client of the group for the purpose a project Trump desired to develop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2003. Trump stated in a 2007 deposition that his contact with Sater “was very little” despite the company’s offices being in Trump Tower, two floors below Trump himself. An anonymous source within the building stated otherwise, claiming that Trump and Sater met regularly. When questioned during the deposition if he planned “to be associated with Bayrock” if Sater stayed on the payroll, Trump replied, “I’ll have to see what action they take”. According to a newsource, Kriss stated that Trump thought highly of Slater’s loyalty and appreciated Slater’s ties to Russia.