The charges against Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his protégé Rick Gates, the first in Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation, primarily involve laundering money earned in Ukraine without paying taxes or registering as a foreign lobbyist. A main conduit for moving these funds from offshore companies to the United States were a series of real estate transactions that The Intercept identified in February.
At that time, we identified over $19 million in home equity loans taken out by Manafort in New York City over a five-year period. The escalating series of transactions included one particularly large and unusual loan from a banker on Trump’s now-shuttered Economic Advisory Council.
The indictment, unsealed this morning, found that Manafort laundered “more than $18 million” through offshore accounts, money earned while working for corrupt former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort and Gates concealed this overseas work in Ukraine, and used the offshore accounts to “purchase multi-million dollar properties in the United States,” according to the indictment. Manafort then “borrowed millions of dollars in loans using these properties as collateral, thereby obtaining cash in the United States without reporting and paying taxes on the income.”
The indictment outlines a fairly common money-laundering technique: create an offshore company to accept foreign money, and use that company to purchase American property. Then take a loan out against that property. The loan enables the person to have full access to the money without having paid taxes or disclosed the source of the income. Money laundering in the New York City real estate world has become so ubiquitous that it is likely driving up the price of high-end properties. A recent Treasury Department estimate suggested nearly a third of all such properties were obtained suspiciously.
Time -Includes Conspiracy Against the United States
"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 corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts," the indictment states, accusing Manafort of using "his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income." A spokesperson for Manafort did not immediately comment to the AP.
The main caveat worth remembering here is that Manafort was out of the campaign by August — meaning that he wasn’t there for the closing days of Trump’s effort. That said, there are two ways in which Manafort and Russian interests overlapped during his time on the campaign.
The first relates to Deripaska, the Putin-allied oligarch. Shortly after Manafort started with the campaign, he emailed a business partner in Ukraine and asked how his new position might be used to “get whole,” asking if Deripaska’s team was aware of his new position. Later in the campaign, Manafort sought to pass word to Deripaska that a private briefing on the campaign might be possible. It doesn’t seem to have happened.
(Worth noting: During the campaign, the Trump campaign — then managed by Manafort — worked to remove language in the party platform about arming Ukraine in its efforts against Russia.)
Manafort was also one of the participants in the infamous Trump Tower meeting set up by Donald Trump Jr. and involving a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer who was offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. During that meeting, Trump Jr. described Manafort as being on his phone the whole time, hinting that the content was not interesting to the campaign chairman. Later, though, Manafort turned over notes from the meeting that he’d taken on his phone.
A former Trump campaign adviser struck a cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, secretly pleading guilty three weeks ago to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Kremlin-connected Russians.
George Papadopoulos, who joined the Trump team in spring 2016 as an energy and foreign policy expert, communicated with a "campaign supervisor" during the campaign about his attempts to arrange a meeting with the Russians to discuss U.S.-Russia ties during a Trump presidency, according to court documents.
The supervisor, who was not named in the documents, told him, "Great work."
He relayed to the superviser that during his communications with Russian contacts, the Russians said they had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton and thousands of emails.
Papadopoulos lied to the FBI about the timing and nature of the communications, officials said.
"Through his false statements and omissions, defendant ... impeded the FBI's ongoing investigation into the existence of any links or coordination between individuals associated with the Campaign and the Russian government's efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election," prosecutors wrote
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