Trump’s Former Campaign Manager Faces Further Fraud Charges
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, along with his aide and longtime business partner Richard Gates, have been charged with 32 additional counts of tax and bank fraud, according to an indictment from the Justice Department that was unsealed on Thursday.
The two men were first indicted in October of last year for laundering millions of dollars and not registering as foreign agents although they worked for over a decade as political consultants in Ukraine.
Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, who is now the special prosecutor leading the US legal team investigating alleged intervention by Russia in the lead-up to Donald Trump’s 2016 election, seems to have unsealed the indictment in order to raise the legal stakes for Manafort and Gates, according to Bloomberg.
As Vox put it, the pair are now additionally accused of a dizzying array of financial crimes.
According to the indictment, the pair used offshore accounts in tax havens such as Cyprus, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, and the Seychelles to shift and disguise over US$75 million.
The alleged money laundering scheme lasted for decades, and helped Manafort disguise income he made as a lobbyist and political consultant to Viktor F. Yanukovych, the Russia-aligned former Ukrainian president.
Manafort, with Gate’s help, hid from the Treasury and Justice Departments more than $30 million of income. The two also falsified financial information, inflating income statements and hiding debts in order to receive more than $20 million in loans.
They allegedly used some of this money to buy luxury properties in SoHo and the Hamptons, and fund their lavish lifestyles.
Although the charges do not involve Mr. Trump or his campaign, The New York Times suggests their unsealing was latest of Mueller’s attempts to pressure Manafort and Gates to cooperate with the larger investigation.
Manafort’s spokesman issued a statement Thursday night denying the latest charges, saying “Paul Manafort is innocent of the allegations set out in the newly filed indictments and he is confident that he will be acquitted of all charges."
On Friday, The New York Times reported that Gates is expected to change his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty”.