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Wed Dec 29, 2021, 11:30 AM

With shadowy money, Ukraine oligarch became Cleveland's biggest landlord

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette special report (link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2021/12/26/ukraine-oligarch-ihor-kolomoisky-cleveland-property-optima-investigation/stories/202112220147

For Ukraine oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, the Westin hotel in Cleveland that he owns with partners became the center of the most powerful Republican gathering in the nation during the 2016 convention.

Then-candidate Donald Trump set up his headquarters in the downtown luxury hotel. His family members and top advisers stayed in the penthouse presidential suite. In the lobby that showcases modern, eclectic art, the future president met with a crush of reporters the morning after he delivered his acceptance speech at the convention, gushing over the local hospitality.

“The lobby of the Westin Hotel is a palace for insiders,” wrote the Washington Post.

- snip -

But Mr. Kolomoisky’s venture into Cleveland, under a web of companies known as Optima, remains one of the most troubling examples of what’s gone wrong with financial transparency laws in the U.S. and how an oligarch and his partners dominated the real estate of a major American city without ever disclosing his ownership.

The 58-year-old billionaire and others bought the towers through companies set up in Delaware — one of the nation’s foremost havens for corporate secrecy — through a litany of offshore shell companies in amounts that forced taxpayers in Ukraine to turn over billions to save the bank.

Far from the usual havens for shadowy money, Cleveland has become the center of an international money laundering probe that has attracted the attention of Congress and led agents several times to the Ukraine capital of Kyiv to meet with the country’s law enforcement leaders.

“It’s happening in Middle America. That’s what’s moving the needle. It’s a new front in how money laundering is used,” said Scott Greytak, advocacy director for Transparency International in Washington, D.C., a non-profit that tracks global corruption.

- more at link -

What's happening to Cleveland? What's happening to our Rustbelt Midwestern cities? This is a troubling trend and I'm afraid it's going to continue if we don't do something quickly.

Isn't the Magnitsky Act (that created sanctions on Russian dirty money) supposed to STOP this?

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