Sater’s name has also come up repeatedly in connection to President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia and willingness to take funding from unsavory partners. The Huffington Post has found previously unreported connections between Sater and the Trump family through a company called Global Habitat Solutions. GHS claimed to manufacture a proprietary homebuilding material, but in fact took its photos of its purported product directly from Titan Atlas, a twice-defunct venture that Donald Trump Jr. co-founded and invested in.
HuffPost found that GHS, along with two other Sater-owned entities, United Biofuels Company LLC and Sands Point Partners GP LLC, are dormant shelf corporations that sell no products and have no customers.
Sater has a long-running association with the Trumps. He has worked in Trump’s towers on Fifth Avenue and Wall Street, and carried a Trump Organization business card identifying himself as a senior adviser to Trump. He financed Trump properties while working at Bayrock, a company with ties to an alleged money laundering scheme. He has even boasted about searching for new Trump-branded ventures in Russia with Ivanka and Donald Jr., and worked with Trump’s personal lawyer to backchannel a Russian-backed Ukraine peace plan to the White House.
Despite these numerous connections, Trump said in 2013 that if Sater “were sitting in the room right now, I wouldn’t know what he looked like.” Trump Organization lawyer Allen Garten told the Financial Times last year that he “had no reason to question” where Bayrock got its money.
Sater also came up at Monday’s House Select Intelligence Committee hearing, in which FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the bureau is “investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government.” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) asked if he was aware of Sater’s relationship with Trump and his involvement in stock fraud. Comey declined to answer.
These so-called shelf corporations highlight the opaque business endeavors and personal relationships that have thrust Sater into two of the overlapping scandals plaguing Trump.
After The Huffington Post asked Sater about these companies and several other items on his resume, he took many of his 21 social networking profiles and personal websites down “for maintenance” or made them private. Sater said that he no longer held the advisory roles at two Turkish construction companies, an oil company in Turkmenistan, a real estate company whose chief executive is awaiting trial on fraud charges in Russia, and the Trump Organization that had been listed on his resume as continuing to the present.
Before it was taken down, GHS’s website was full of mockups of houses, supposedly built with its proprietary material, that were identical to those on Titan Atlas’ site. Until it shuttered in 2014, Titan Atlas made concrete building panels using a license from EVG, an Austrian company.
A rendering of a Titan Atlas home next to the same design on GHS’s site.
GHS’s website had boasted that it “is currently manufacturing the panels out of a production line in Charleston, South Carolina.” (Titan Atlas’ plant was in North Charleston, South Carolina.) The GHS site also showed numerous computerized rendering of panels, home exteriors and floor plans that were identical to images on Titan Atlas’ website.
An image of the cross-section of Titan Atlas’ building panels next to an image from GHS’s site.
Sater told HuffPost he used the images and product descriptions with the permission of Jeremy Blackburn, Titan Atlas’ co-founder, who gave him a disk containing the company’s promotional materials. Trump Jr. introduced him to Blackburn, Sater said, but Sater is not sure if Trump Jr. was aware of GHS’s connection to Titan Atlas.
Garten, the Trump Organization lawyer, told HuffPost that Titan Atlas “has nothing to do with the Trump Organization,” and that Trump Jr. was “simply an investor in Titan with no involvement in the day-to-day operations of the company.”
An entity controlled by the Trump Organization, which Trump Jr. now runs, is now the owner of the title to Titan Atlas’ property after taking over a $3.65 million loan guaranteed by Trump Jr., Blackburn and a third investor in the company. Blackburn has a checkered financial history and has declared personal bankruptcy, the Charleston Post and Courier’s David Slade reported in 2014.
Sater described his relationship with Titan Atlas as “like being a reseller” for its products. “I was looking to promote modular housing and they had a good program for modular housing,” Sater said. “If I had gotten an order, I would have bought from them [Titan Atlas].”
But GHS never got an order for the homebuilding products, never bought any products from Titan Atlas, and ― despite having a website that described an active company with a manufacturing operation ― GHS has done “no business in six years,” Sater said. The address on GHS’s website was a co-working space in New York on the 21st floor of 590 Madison Avenue, which Sater and the landlord both said he no longer occupies.
590 Madison Avenue is connected to Trump Tower through an atrium, a benefit that another Trump associate with connections to Russia, Carter Page, has extolled.
Page, Trump’s former Russia adviser who took a campaign-approved trip to Moscow last year, has an office in the same co-working space on the 21st floor of 590 Madison Avenue. In a response to a Senate inquiry, Page detailed how he took advantage of his proximity to Trump Tower. “I have frequently dined in Trump Grill, had lunch in Trump Café, had coffee meetings in the Starbucks at Trump Tower, attended events and spent many hours in campaign headquarters on the fifth floor last year,” he wrote.
Page told HuffPost he has never heard of Sater or GHS. Sater said he had never heard of Page’s company, Global Energy Capital, and only knew of Page through news reports.
GHS, however, is not registered in New York state filings to this posh-seeming Manhattan address. Its offices are listed as 130 Shore Road, Suite 200, in Port Washington. When a Huffington Post reporter visited the address, it was a UPS store with P.O. boxes but no office suites.
Sater said he had simply failed to update GHS’s website. “I’ll fix it up,” he said. “I would not want to give anyone the wrong impression anyway.” A few hours after HuffPost spoke to Sater on Monday afternoon, GHS’s formerly public website was password-protected.
The GHS website at least tried to create the impression of being an active business; the website for another Sater project, the Sands Point Partners GP LLC, looks like a hastily incomplete copy of a Dreamweaver template. The 16 photos ostensibly showing the company’s real estate portfolio are pictures of buildings that Sands Point doesn’t own, labeled “Test Portfolio Item 1,” “Test Portfolio Item 2,” and so on. Similarly, the headshots of Sands Point’s executives show executives at a Boston-based software company who have never worked for Sands Point, labeled “Team Member 1,” “Team Member 2” and so on for all eight fictional members of the executive team.
The only press release on Sands Point’s site is plagiarized from another real estate brokerage firm. The address and phone number listed on Sands Point’s site are a former address and current phone number of a Florida real estate financing company that has an entity called Sands Point Partners LLC. Representatives for these companies say their information was taken without authorization and that they have no relationship with Sater or Sands Point Partners GP LLC.
A press release announcing a Sands Point deal that never happened next to a legitimate press release from another company describing a real transaction.
Sater said the site was just a placeholder and blamed a web developer for lifting its content. He even suggested that the site was not his, and that he had not seen it before. Internet domain records, however, show Sands Point’s site was registered to Felix Sater using his personal gmail address, under the name of his other company, GHS, and GHS’s address at P.O. Box 200 at the UPS Store on 130 Shore Road.
Sater told HuffPost that he’s “working on cancer research now.” He says has only one active business entity right now: a real estate advisory firm called Regency Capital Associates LLC.