Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort surrendered to the FBI after a grand jury investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election charged him and a business associate with conspiracy to commit money laundering, among other charges.
Manafort and Richard W. Gates were indicted on 12 criminal charges.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation started amid suspicion of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. These charges, however, center on Manafort’s and Gates’s connection with Ukrainian officials.
The grand jury indictment says that Manafort laundered over $18 million dollars in income earned as an unregistered agent for Ukranian politicians. Russia was not mentioned in the indictment.
“In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, Manafort and Gates laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign partnerships, and bank accounts.”
Manafort and Gates advised the Party of Regions, a political party, and its former leader Viktor Yanukovych. Yanykovych was an advocate for closer ties between Ukraine and Russia. He moved Ukraine away from association with the European Union. He fled to Russia after a violent uprising that led to 100 deaths and Yanukoych’s ouster in 2014.
Key points from the indictment
- Manafort and Gates failed to report their activities and fees in Ukraine. When the Department of Justice asked them, they gave “false and misleading statements.”
- Manafort and Gates used a network of offshore bank accounts to conceal their income from U.S. taxes and scrutiny. Roughly $75 million was transferred through these offshore accounts.
- Manafort purchased millions of dollars worth of properties and supported a “lavish lifestyle” with the tens of millions of dollars obtained from these offshore bank accounts. Manafort would then take out large low-interest loans in the United States using these properties as collateral, essentially, increasing his access to capital while evading authorities. The indictment said that he “defrauded the institutions that loaned him money on these properties.”