Of course you can't compare Trump with these guys, Trump doesn't boil people alive, for starters. He's a real estate developer first and foremost. These guys are very, very scary.
But here's the thing that bothers me with the Azeri deal - every now and then some Russian/ex-Soviet major mobster wants to build something - a luxurious resort, a five star hotel, a golf course or a shopping mall in some god forsaken shithole where he was born in order to show his babushka that he made it.
Usually, he approaches a major chain to arrange licensing with a generous offer, and it doesn't pass the smell test - foot traffic per square foot of retail space for a shopping mall, daily/weekly/monthly average occupancy for a hotel, that sort of thing. In layman terms, who's gonna shop/stay there once it's built.
And such investments don't make any business sense - in one instance they couldn't massage the numbers for a shopping mall even when they assumed that literally everyone in a 300 mile radius will shop there daily at NYC prices.
So the major chains politely say "thanks but not thanks" and such vanity projects are therefore run as their own brands. No one is willing to risk their reputation on a mob vanity project for a few million in licensing fees - something that the Trump organization claims they've done - and for a paltry five million.
Sometimes, such projects make perfect business sense if you factor in nefarious activities - one such luxury resort in the middle of nowhere was actually a gigantic brothel for Iranian Revolutionary Guards and clergymen - last I've heard they're making a killing with two planeloads daily from Tehran.
So this is what bugs me - either Trump and Ivanka are literally clueless and slapped their brand name on a toxic project for a few million in return or as the New Yorker article alleges they're involved much deeper with the Azeri mafia clans.
Literally anyone could have told them that a few million in not worth doing business with people who shove metal rods in other people's rectums.
Like I said, it's either incompetence or nefarious intent.