Hotel Project May Abet Dark-Asset Flows

The Trump Organization faces a public-relations bombshell with its activities in Azerbaijan. Back in 2012, certain Baku-based glitterati were eager to brand their swank hotel with a stylish international name. Hilton or InterContinental may have sounded fusty, but Trump offered nouveau-riche appeal. And of course the Trump Organization was captivated by the financial prospects, at least when the hotel was planned during the heady days of $90-to-$100 oil. The Fifth Avenue crew, however, may have failed in its due diligence, given that the Baku-based partners could be aligned with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. That point is topical because the White House is prepared to label the military unit as a terrorist organization. For investors in the developing world, mind the lesson: Seemingly legitimate partners may have undisclosed ties. Thorough research on the counterparty may be awkward, if not costly, but it will help to keep a cross-border transaction on track.

Our Vantage Point: Investors can see international deals through rose-tinted glasses, especially when those opportunities are cloaked in bling. Using common sense is just as important as meeting legal requirements.

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Image: Authorities aim to transform Baku into a fashionable entrepot. Credit: Krasnevsky at Can Stock Photo.