After taking office, Donald Trump sold $35 million in real estate to secretive buyers. The estates in question include 41 luxury condo units in Las Vegas. According to a USA Today report, these buyers used limited liability companies (LLCs) to remain anonymous.
President Trump has access to these funds and can withdraw from them anytime he wants through a trust that names him as the sole beneficiary although the trust is managed by his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr.
USA Today has reported an increase in the use of LLCs, a variation that seems to be connected to Trump becoming the Republican candidate and then president.
Before signing the GOP tax bill into law in December 2017, a last-minute tax break for real estate investors who use LLC’s, corporations, and partnerships was added.
Even before the tax break was announced, the number of buyers using LLC to do business with Trump increased dramatically. In the two years prior to becoming the Republican nominee, only a 4% of buyers used the secretive shell companies. One year after that, the percentage rose to almost 70%.
The business interactions for the sale of Trump's Palm Beach mansion to Russian oligarch Dimitry Rybolovlev in 2008 resurfaced last year and made speculators suspect possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.
Reuters reported that there are at least 63 Russian citizens who have purchased approximately $98 million of Trump's properties.
“If someone wants to do business with the Trump entities in the form of an LLC, we look behind the LLC to see who the owner of it is and where the funding is coming from,” Bobby Burchfield, the ethics adviser at the Trump Organization, told the newspaper. “If we can’t determine that, we won’t sign off on it.”
Before his first day as president, Trump said that he would turn over his businesses to his two sons but would not divest his assets and properties.