April 4, 2018 / 6:12 PM / 8 months ago

Senate Intelligence panel interviews ex-Trump business associate: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former business associate of President Donald Trump who worked as an informant for U.S. government agencies met with representatives of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, according to three people familiar with the meeting.

The sources said committee officials spoke with Felix Sater, a long-time government informant and businessman who once had a business card describing him as a “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump,” according to a copy of the card seen by Reuters.

Television crews spotted Sater leaving the Senate panel’s secure Capitol Hill office early Wednesday afternoon. Committee officials had no immediate comment on the substance of the panel’s discussions with Sater.

But Ronn Torossian, a New York public relations executive hired by Sater, confirmed that Sater had met with representatives of the panel, and also said that Sater “has for years helped the U.S. government on vital issues.”

In a statement circulated earlier this year by Torossian, Sater, whose Bayrock Group property company was involved in business deals with the Trump Organization, said his work as a government informant included “preventing attacks on U.S. financial institutions.” He also said he had “provided significant intelligence with respect to nuclear weapons in North Korea” as well as information on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

In the late 1990s, Sater became embroiled in a federal racketeering case involving a $40 million stock fraud. As part of a plea agreement, he agreed to become a U.S. government informant. Documents filed in Federal Court in Brooklyn, New York, include redacted FBI testimony confirming Sater’s work as an informant.

Media reports last year said that at the time he was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, Trump’s company was pursuing a scheme to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and that Sater, who was born in Russia, urged Trump to visit Moscow to promote the plan. Trump never made such a trip, and the Washington Post reported the project was later abandoned.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Nathan Layne; Editing by Tom Brown

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