As federal investigators look into ties between Donald Trump’s administration and presidential campaign and Russia, they’ve brought the dubious opening 18 months of the Trump Taj Mahal to new light.
CNN wrote up a story about the fiscal wrongdoings. It pointed out that the feds fined the Atlantic City resort casino in $477,000 in the ’90s. At the time, this was the biggest fine levied against a casino for violating the Bank Secrecy Act.
“The Trump Taj Mahal casino broke anti-money laundering rules 106 times in its first year and a half of operation in the early 1990s, according to the IRS in a 1998 settlement agreement,” CNN wrote.
Big same-day cash-outs not reported
The Taj tangled with the IRS over a law that required the casino to report any gamblers who cash out at least $10,000 in one day. The IRS’ logic is simple: Casinos can be money-laundering havens if high-dollar transactions without reporting.
The fine was certainly more than a slap on the wrist; however, the casino didn’t have to admit guilt when it paid the penalty.
Furthermore, the names of the men and women from the unreported transactions were protected by the Treasury Department’s FinCEN investigative unit.
Investigators’ interest in possible Russian ties
Amid the pervasive suspicions that Trump has had dealings with Russia, CNN is reporting investigators want the details of the person-by-person transactions. That is being done to get a sense of who is involved in Trump’s financial network.
“Congressional investigators say they are interested in the global network of Trump’s finances to determine if FinCEN’s data shows connections between Trump associates and Russia,” CNN reported.
The story does not mention how possible or probable it might be for investigators to link the Taj transactions to some sort of Russian connection. Nor does it provide a sense of scope. Are investigators banking on finding something here, or is this just normal investigative procedure?[i15-table tableid=4306]
Yet another nail in the Taj’s never-quite-closed coffin
In many ways, Hard Rock‘s purchase of the Taj was a relief for Atlantic City diehards who endured the depressing end of the casino Trump once called “the eighth wonder of the world.” (Hard Rock hopes to return it to glory with hundreds of millions in investment.)
The Taj was one of four properties that closed in the 2014 casino contraction. Billionaire developer Carl Icahn bought the property, but a seemingly never-ending dispute with UNITE HERE Local 54 resulted in a July 2016 strike that crippled the casino.
After losing tens of millions of dollars due to the strike and the resulting bad press, Icahn and his associates decided to close the casino and hotel in October 2016.