How Ivanka’s Jewelry Line Got Swept Up In A Huge Alleged Fraud Scheme

by Seth Millstein
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According to a report in GQ, a little-noticed court document filed over the summer alleges ties between Ivanka Trump's jewelry line and a massive fraud scheme. Court filings suggest that a powerful oil trading family used Trump's now-defunct jewelry line to fraudulently conceal money part of a $100 million debt the family owed to the Commercial Bank to Dubai. Trump herself is not accused of having any part in or knowledge of the alleged scheme. Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment on the story.

When Trump launched Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry around a decade ago, she did so in partnership with a man named Moshe Lax, a diamond heir who would eventually introduce Trump to her future husband, Jared Kushner. Specifically, Trump allowed Lax to use her name for his existing diamond business, Madison Avenue Diamonds, in exchange for a cut of the profits. For a period of time, GQ reports, Trump also had an equity stake in the company.

Lax, who confirmed aspects of the story to GQ, was later accused of all sorts fraudulent business practices, including some involving Trump's jewelry line. Although she spoke fondly of Lax in her 2009 memoir, Trump terminated her business relationship with him at the end of 2016. But before she ended that partnership, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry allegedly was used to conceal part of the $100 million debt that was owed to the Commercial Bank of Dubai — at least, that's what the Commercial Bank of Dubai says.

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In court filings, the bank says that it was asked for a loan by the Al-Saris, a powerful family of Emirati oil traders. It's unclear when that request was allegedly made; however, it is known that the Al-Saris fell into financial trouble in 2012 after being sanctioned by the U.S. State Department for allegedly selling oil to Iran. As of mid-2013, the family allegedly owed almost $900 million to various lenders.

The Commercial Bank of Dubai says that it gave the Al-Saris a $100 million loan, which the family eventually defaulted on. According to the bank's court filings, the Al-Saris allegedly attempted to launder $100 million of its existing assets in an attempt to escape its debt to the bank. The bank says that the Al-Saris first funneled that money into a group of shell companies, then bought diamonds from a variety of dealers — one of them being Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry — through those companies.

GQ reports that over the summer, the bank filed a request in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to subpoena Trump's jewelry line. As the magazine notes, the request didn't raise any red flags at the time. This could be because the legal name of the jewelry business is still Madison Avenue Diamonds, and as such, the subpoena request never mentions Trump by name.

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It's important to note that Trump herself isn't accused of any wrongdoing. The bank says that the Al-Saris purchased diamonds from Trump's jewelry company as part of a larger money-laundering scheme — but it has not claimed that Trump, or Lax, for that matter, had any knowledge of that scheme when the company sold the diamonds to the Al-Saris.

In an email to GQ, Lax said that he hasn't yet received a subpoena and appeared to downplay his business dealings with the Al-Saris. "They might have bought a piece of fashion jewelry at our former boutique,” he told the magazine. “We will fully comply in verifying and providing info the court might ask from us.”

This isn't the first time a Trump-branded entity has been accused of being a vessel for illicit money. A joint NBC News-Reuters investigation found that the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama allegedly had been used to hide profits from the Russian mafia, while the New Yorker reported in March that a construction company that worked on a Trump property in Azerbaijan has links to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Trump, her father, and the White House have all refused to comment those three stories. However, the Trump Organization did release a statement distancing itself from the Panama property. “The Trump Organization was not the owner, developer or seller of the Trump Ocean Club Panama project," the Trump Organization told NBC News and Reuters. "Because of its limited role, the company was not responsible for the financing of the project and had no involvement in the sale of units or the retention of any real estate brokers.”