Days after mysterious FBI raid on Russian’s Trump Towers III unit, the reason is revealed
After the FBI raided a condo at the Trump Towers III in Sunny Isles Beach last week, the feds offered little explanation other than it was part of “law enforcement activity.”
The reason has finally been revealed. Around the same time as the raid, the unit’s owner was being arrested practically on the other side of the country on charges of illegally selling airplane parts to Russian airline companies.
Oleg Sergeyevich Patsulya was arrested last Thursday by federal agents in Phoenix, Arizona, along with his business partner, Vasilii Sergeyevich Besedin, and charged with conspiring to violate the U.S. Export Control Reform Act and to commit international money laundering.
The Russians, both from the Sunny Isles Beach area, had traveled to Arizona in September of last year and attempted to purchase aircraft brake systems from a supply company there and sell them to Russian airline companies, among other allegations in a criminal complaint.
Justice Department officials Tuesday announced their arrests and others in five federal cases alleging the unlawful sale of aircraft parts and technology equipment to Russian companies and Russia’s intelligence services, as well as the theft of trade secrets and auto software codes for Chinese companies. Also, a Chinese national was charged with providing materials to help Iran build weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
A criminal complaint alleges that Patsulya and Besedin used their Florida company, MIC P&I, and worked with others to evade U.S. export laws and regulations to send aircraft parts to Russian airline companies over the past year. The complaint, written by a Commerce Department special agent and filed in Phoenix federal court, alleges that Patsulya and Besedin fielded requests for parts directly from Russian airlines at a time when many of them were facing increased sanctions stemming from Russia’s invasion of Urkaine.
The two men then used intermediary companies and foreign bank accounts in third-party countries to mask the true identity of the customers and the source of the payments, according to the complaint.
“Patsulya and Besedin then approached aircraft parts suppliers in the United States, lied about who their customers were, and lied about where the parts would be going,” the Justice Department said in a news release.
If convicted the two Russians faced up to 20 years in prison for violating the export laws and up to 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit international money laundering.
Patsulya’s lawyer at the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Phoenix and Besedin’s court-appointed attorney there could not be reached for comment.
Last Thursday, a squad of FBI special agents, assisted by local police, descended on Trump Tower III at 15811 Collins Ave. to carry out a search of unit 4102. It’s owned by a similarly named shell company, MIC-USA LLC, that is controlled by two Russian businessmen, Patsulya and Agunda Konstantinovna Makeeva, according to state corporation records. Makeeva was not arrested in connection with the Justice Department’s crackdown.
On Friday, a spokesman for the FBI’s Miami field office said it “was conducting court-ordered law enforcement activity in the vicinity of that location,” but provided no other information.
Patsulya and Makeeva could not be reached for comment. Patsulya’s wife, Roza Pereira, who state records show is also listed on the corporate paperwork for MIC-USA, said she was aware of the FBI’s raid.
“I can’t talk about it,” Pereira told the Miami Herald on Friday. “The lawyer [for my husband] said not to talk to anyone. ... I have no idea what it’s about.”
Sunny Isles Beach has been dubbed “LIttle Moscow” by locals because it’s home to many Russian expatriates. Some expressed concerns about a backlash against their affluent beachfront community after the Russian military invaded Ukraine last year and the U.S. government started pursuing sanctions against oligarchs who hide their wealth in real estate in South Florida and other parts of the country.
Before becoming president in 2016, Trump signed a deal with the developers of the 45-story condo buildings to name the property after him to help promote sales. Foreign buyers, especially from Latin America and Russia, flocked to Trump Towers, as they did with other Trump-branded properties in Sunny Isles Beach.
Among the buyers: MIC-USA, which acquired the three-bedroom, three-bath condo residence at Trump Tower III for $1.65 million a decade ago, according to Miami-Dade property records.
In 2020, BAC Florida Bank, which provided financing for the purchase, sued Patsulya and Makeeva, claiming they defaulted on their $975,000 mortgage. The dispute was resolved later that year, though it’s not clear how from the court records. MIC-USA, controlled by the two Russians, continued to own the 41st-floor unit at Trump Tower III.