Former President Donald Trump’s social media company was scrutinized by federal prosecutors for possibly violating money laundering laws after receiving $8 million in loans from a lender with ties to an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a report.
The loans in question were wired to Trump Media in late 2021 and early 2022 from Paxum Bank, which is registered in the small Caribbean island of Dominica, and an entity called ES Family Trust, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.
The initial $2 million Paxum Bank loan came with a promissory note that identified ES Family Trust as the lender, and two months later, Trump Media received an additional $6 million directly from ES Family Trust, according to the report.
The loans caught the eye of prosecutors in the US attorney’s office for the southern district of New York in October 2022 as the office investigated possible regulatory violations involved with Trump Media’s attempt to merge with Digital World Acquisition Corp.
Paxum Bank has been known to cater to the pornography and sex worker industries, according to the Guardian, making it a higher risk for money laundering and providing illicit financing.
The trustee of ES Family Trust, Angel Pacheco, appears to have also been a director of Paxum Bank, and the Domica-based bank’s part-owner, Anton Postolnikov, appears to be a relation of Aleksandr Smirnov – head of the Russia-controlled maritime company Rosmorport, and a Putin ally and former Kremlin official.
It is unclear if Trump Media executives would be on the hook for charges if the loans are found to have come from unlawful activity, according to the Guardian. The $2 million loan appears to have been sourced by Digital World Acquisition Corp CEO Patrick Orlando.
Prosecutors would need to demonstrate that Trump Media officials knew the money was the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity and the transaction was designed to conceal its source.
However, the expanded scope of New York prosecutors’ investigation into the potential merger of Trump Media and Digital World Acquisition Corp threatens to delay its completion, according to the report.
The merger would provide Trump Media – the parent company of Trump’s preferred social media outlet, Truth Social – with as much as $1.3 billion in capital and a stock market listing.