Mar 5, 2018
U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought new indictments against Paul Manafort, a former chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, along with Manafort’s long-time business associate and deputy campaign director Rick Gates.
Coupled with indictments Mueller made earlier against the two, the new charges show the kinds of financial wheelings and dealings Manafort was involved in.
It appears Manafort has been receiving millions of dollars from all over the world and hiding the money from American tax authorities by moving it through foreign companies and banks in places like Cyprus, the Seychelles, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Manafort is charged with laundering 30 million dollars he received as a lobbyist and consultant to Viktor Yanukovych, then the president of Ukraine. He never registered as a foreign agent while lobbying for Yanukovych, which is among the charges in the indictments. Yanukovych was hoping to stave off opposition against him from the U.S. and to strike a deal between Ukraine and the European Union, but pulled back under pressure from Russia. In the face of protests against his backing out of the agreement, he later fled from Ukraine to Russia.
Yanukovych’s ouster caused Manafort’s income to dry up. To make up for the lost income, Manafort is charged with falsifying his income to obtain more than 20 million dollars in loans and mortgages he took out on homes he purchased with the laundered money from Yanukovych.
Somewhere along the line Manafort may have run afoul of a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, suspected of ties to organized crime. Deripaska’s lawyers filed a petition in the Cayman Islands to recover almost 19 million dollars he says he gave Manafort to invest.
Manafort offered his services to the Trump campaign for free. It appears he saw this as another opportunity to make money. According to the Washington Post, after Manafort was promoted to campaign chairman he emailed Deripaska to inquire, “How do we use to get whole?”
When Mueller handed down his earlier indictments against Manafort, Trump washed his hands of Manafort’s misdeeds by tweeting, “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign.”
The timeline of the crimes charged in the latest indictments, however, runs right into the time Manafort was in charge of the campaign, with Manafort continuing to illegally obtain loan money through 2017.
Whether Trump is able to wriggle free of involvement in the shady dealings of people close to him like Manafort remains to be seen. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the latest indictments, and perhaps he’s banking on his ties to Trump to save him.
Nonetheless, the activities of Manafort and those connected with him demonstrate the ways in which the politicians and capitalism are intertwined.