Under US election laws, foreigners are barred from contributing money as aid to finance political campaigns, including inaugurations. Non-resident foreigners in particular, who are found to have knowingly or unwittingly violated such rule will be fined and/or prosecuted. In Trump’s case, the inaugural committee in charge of handling the presidential inauguration, accepted donations from US registered shell companies that had direct connections to foreign nationalities.
In business parlance, a legal entity becomes a shell company if after incorporation and registration it continues to exist only on paper, as it does not engage in any business activity, maintain employees, or set up an office, but may hold a bank account and other types of passive investment.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) asserts that the use of shell companies poses as problem in determining and ascertaining the legality and transparency of political donations. However, recent developments related to other investigations concerning Donald Trump’s activities as incumbent president of the US, have prompted Attorney Generals in Washington D.C. and in New Jersey, as well as federal prosecutors in New York to demand documents supporting the contributions accepted and spent by Trump’s Inaugural Committee.
The Guardian Follows Paper Trails Leading to the Identification of 3 Foreign Nationals
In verifying the list of donations accepted by the Trump Inaugural Committee via documents submitted to the FEC, the Guardian took note of three (3) indeterminate corporations that handed over $25,000 donation each for Trump’s inaugural ceremonies. In following the paper trail, The Guardian was able obtain documents and information that led to the identity of foreign nationals connected to the shell corporations.
Cyrus Vandrevala, a London-based financier tied to a shell company registered as Sierra Vista LLC in Delaware but with business address in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Born in Mumbai, India, Vandrevala holds an Indian passport obtained from Delhi. He is related by affinity to Niranjan Hiranandani, president of a prominent real estate lobby group in India, and is recognized as one of the country’s wealthiest member of the Indian real estate industry.
Cyrus Vandrevala, a son-in-law of Hiranandani, claims he funds property developments in India, whilst also operating property development firms in the US. The firm claims to have amassed $7 billion in investment funds for building homes in Mumbai and Pune, cities in which Trump Towers are located.
David Sean, an American-Taiwanese businessman also known as Pong Hsiang and creator of Jan Castle LLC, a shell company with only a mailbox address to show, yet able to have made a $25,000 donation to the Trump Inaugural Committee.
Records obtained by The Guardian from various state authorities across the US show that Sean has created several other shell companies somewhere in California, Georgia, Florida, Nevada and Wyoming during the past two decades; using only 10 mailboxes as addresses.
In a telephone interview with Sean’s wife, The Guardian learned that Jan Castle LLC was created for and in behalf of 3 Chinese investors, one of whom was identified through the company’s original filing documents as Jianning. David Sean though, later denied his wife’s interview statement, and refused to discuss the business activities of Jan Castle LLC and the people behind it.
Elon Lebouvich, an Israeli real estate businessman who created a company called New York State Property Management Corporation. It paid a $25,000 contribution to the Trump inaugural fund 3 days before Trump was sworn-in.
The Guardian got hold of information from Brooklyn City records that Lebouvich, currently has an ongoing retail property development project in Crown Heights, worth $5 million. The property being developed is owned by another LLC owned and controlled by the mother of Lebouvich’s legal counsel.