By Aaron Miller-
Documents and emails reveal how executives at Donald Trump’s social media company were highly concerned last spring about $8m they had accepted from opaque entities in two emergency loans, when its auditors sought further details about the payments.
The revelation of the news comes simultaneously with the timing of special prosecutor Jack Smith’s latest subpoena to Mar-Lago Staff about the movement of classified documents around Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
The besieged former U.S president has been under the microscope of legal prosecutors for few years now, escaping the sort of bruising most legal experts believe awaits him. He has defiantly attempted to counter all allegations against him and unsuccessfully use his lawyers to fight the endless claims of legal breaches against him.
Smith’s latest subpoaena to Mar-Lago staff is aimed at nailing the former president, who is still in the process of planning a come back to the White House- a nightmarish scenario for many of his critics who want any chance of a future political career buried in the sand forever, and who believe they have the legal grounds to secure an outcome that achieves just that
Attorney general Merrick Garland appointed Smith to examine allegations into the unclassified documents case , and the inquiry into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election result; the result being an opening of a can of worms that continues the probe into Trump’s past affairs. The former commander in chief is for now like a cat with nine lives, still roaming around with his freedom, and maintaining a pool of fans blindly in support of the former business man and reality tv celebrity turned politician.
The revelation that the trustee of ES Family Trust was a director of Paxum Bank, and one of the part-owners of the bank was a relation of an ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin was implicating in every sense.
The payments had come at a critical time for Trump Media, which runs the Truth Social platform because it was running out of cash after its planned merger with a blank check company known as DWAC that would have unlocked $1.3bn in capital stalled pending an SEC investigation.
The funding took the form of a $2m loan from an entity called Paxum Bank registered in Dominica in December 2021 and a $6m loan from a entity called ES Family Trust in February 2022, had been arranged in a hurry and Trump Media knew next to nothing about the emergency lenders.
Trump Media CFO Phillip Juhan was considering returning the money due to the opaque nature of its background, former Trump Media co-founder turned whistleblower Will Wilkerson recounted in an interview.
Documents and emails seen by the Guardian and interviews with several people familiar with the payments, knowledge that the $8 million is potentially problematic extends to a number of senior Trump Media executives.
The first $2 million loan was secured by DWAC chief executive Patrick Orlando days before Christmas 2021 as Trump Media’s financial situation grew increasingly dire.
The dishonourable reason for the money not being returned was because because it constituted over 60% of the overall amount of money Trump Media had in its accounts
The executives had good reason to be concerned: a subsequent examination revealed that the trustee of ES Family Trust was simultaneously a director of Paxum Bank, and one of the part-owners of the bank would turn out to be the relation of an ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
Trump Media came under criminal investigation for the merger by the US attorney’s office for the southern district of New York, federal prosecutors started to examine whether the company violated money-laundering statutes over the payments, the Guardian revealed on Wednesday.
Around that time, Trump Media’s chief financial officer, Phillip Juhan, weighed returning the money because of the opaque nature of its origins, former Trump Media co-founder turned whistleblower Will Wilkerson recounted in an interview.
The first $2m loan was sourced by DWAC’s chief executive, Patrick Orlando just days before Christmas 2021 when Trump Media’s financial situation was becoming increasingly acute. Orlando later charged a $240,000 finder’s fee for the loan to Trump Media, according to an invoice billed through his brokerage firm Entoro Securities LLC.
“Just want to keep you in the loop – no guaranty that these will get signed and funded, but we remain hopeful,” John Haley, outside counsel for Trump Media said in a 24 December 2021 email seen by the Guardian, to which Don Jr replied: “Thanks john much appreciated.
The issue was abandoned for a long while before resurfacing on 8 March 2022, when Trump Media’s CFO Juhan flagged the fact that the company had virtually no information about ES Family Trust and that the entity had never signed the promissory note confirming the loan conditions.