A social media company backed by Donald Trump has reportedly been under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York for potential money laundering.
In late 2021 and early 2022, the Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), which owns Truth Social, received a combined $8m in loans with potentially dubious origins, The Guardian reports, citing multiple unnamed sources with knowledge of the investigation and a bank receipt showing the transfer.
The funds came from a trust and passed through Paxum Bank, registered on the Caribbean island of Dominica, which is partly owned by Anton Postolnikov, who appears related to Vladimir Putin ally Aleksandr Smirnov, a Russian connection that raised the interested of the US attorney’s office for the southern district of New York, according to the report.
Will Wilkerson, a former co-founder, of TMTG, said the company weighed returning the money because of its unclear origins, but decided otherwise as funds were dwindling and returning $8m would be a major financial hit.
The office declined a request for comment from The Independent.
The Independent has contacted Donald Trump, TMTG, and Paxum Bank for comment.
In 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission launched a preliminary investigation into TMTG’s still-pending merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC), a special purpose acquisition corporation, whose potential tie-up with the Trump group would allow it to be publicly traded.
That same year, another federal regulator, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, began probing the deal, focusing, as The New York Times reported, on a frenzy of trading at DWAC in the weeks before it announced the merger plans with TMTG.
Last year, Mr Wilkerson, the former TMTG executive, alleged that in 2021 the Trump company held “substantive discussions” about the merger with DWAC that it didn’t disclose, a violation of disclosure laws.
In a 2022 court filing, TMTG argued those discussions were too preliminary to require disclosure. The company told The New York Times in October it maintains a “a culture of compliance.”