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Possible money laundering alleged in sales of Trump properties: US Rep Schiff
[WASHINGTON] Testimony to the US Congress by the head of a research firm indicates that the Trump Organization's sales of properties to Russian nationals may have involved money-laundering, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said on Thursday.
Representative Adam Schiff made his comments after the committee released the transcript of a Nov 14 closed-door interview with Glenn Simpson, a founder of Fusion GPS.
"Those transcripts reveal serious allegations that the Trump Organization may have engaged in money laundering with Russian nationals," Mr Schiff said.
The House of Representatives panel is conducting one of the three congressional investigations into possible collusion between US President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is leading a separate probe by the US Justice Department.
In his testimony, Mr Simpson said that his firm closely examined sales of condominiums in Trump properties in New York, Miami, Panama City and Toronto.
"There were a lot of real estate deals where you couldn't really tell who was buying the property," Mr Simpson said. "And sometimes properties would be bought and sold, and they would be bought for one price and sold for a loss shortly thereafter, and it really didn't make sense to us."
"We saw patterns of buying and selling that we thought were suggestive of money-laundering," he continued.
Earlier this month, Democratic US Senator Dianne Feinstein released Mr Simpson's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she is the ranking Democrat. The panel's Republican chairman, Chuck Grassley, had not agreed to the release.
Fusion GPS, based in Washington, hired former British spy Christopher Steele to investigate Mr Trump's business dealings with Russia.
Mr Trump has repeatedly criticised the dossier, which was based on Mr Steele's investigation, calling it "bogus" and "discredited and phony". Some Republicans critical of Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials have claimed that Mr Steele's dossier triggered the initial probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
They have raised questions about whether the FBI may have relied on the Steele document to improperly obtain surveillance warrants to spy on Trump's campaign associates.
The testimony by Fusion GPS's Simpson before the Senate Judiciary Committee last August contradicted those claims.
Ever since Ms Feinstein released the testimony on Jan 9, House Intelligence Committee Democrats have been asking that Mr Simpson's testimony to their committee be made public.
Russia has denied interfering in the election and Mr Trump has denied any collusion.