WASHINGTON — The indictment unsealed yesterday against Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Trump’s campaign, describes in detail a complex international scheme by which Manafort and an associate allegedly laundered millions of dollars they earned as lobbyists for the government of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates, are accused of conspiracy against the U.S. and acting as unregistered foreign agents, making false statements about their lobbying and public relations efforts, and filing false reports to conceal the money they were paid.
According to the indictment, from 2006 until 2016 Manafort and Gates operated a “scheme” that involved laundering money from their Ukraine work through “scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts.” The two allegedly didn’t pay taxes on the income in these foreign accounts, though they used it to pay for millions of dollars in personal expenses.
And what were those expenses? The indictment goes into lascivious detail about Manafort’s “lavish lifestyle,” which allegedly involved spending more than $18 million on homes, cars, art and antiques — and nearly $1.4 million on clothing.
“Manafort, without reporting the income to his tax preparer of the United States, spent millions of dollars on luxury goods and services for himself and his extended family through payments wired from offshore nominee accounts to United States vendors. Manafort also used these offshore accounts to purchase multi-million dollar properties in the United States,” the indictment said.
In total, the indictment said, “more than $75,000,000 flowed through the offshore accounts.” The indictment said Gates “used money from these offshore accounts to pay for his personal expenses, including his mortgage, children’s tuition, and interior decorating of his Virginia residence.” Manafort allegedly “laundered” $18,544,546 through the accounts. A half-million dollars was allegedly wired to an “investment company,” but the great bulk of it was used to purchase, renovate and decorate multiple properties and on various other luxury goods and automobiles.
Manafort and Gates did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
Manafort’s biggest expense, according the indictment, was $10,001,441 for home furnishings, decorating and renovation services. This included money used for landscaping and housekeeping, and contractors in Florida, Virginia and the Hamptons, an exclusive beach enclave in New York. The indictment also said Manafort spent more than $1 million at a “home automation, lighting, and home entertainment company in Florida” and at an “audio, video, and control system home integration and installation company in the Hamptons.” Manafort also allegedly wired money from Cyprus to purchase goods for his homes, including $1,034,350 that went to an “antique rug store in Alexandria, Virginia” and a related company, $623,910 that went to an antiques dealer in New York, and $31,900 that went to an art gallery in Florida.
According to the indictment, Manafort made $6.4 million in wire transfers to purchase real estate in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Arlington, Va. The filing alleges he “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.”
Manafort also allegedly wired money from Cyprus, the Grenadines and an unknown point of origin to spend $1,369,655 at what the indictment described as a “men’s clothing store in New York” and a “clothing store in Beverly Hills, California.”
According to the indictment, Manafort also spent $273,455 on cars. This included $62,750 to buy a Mercedes-Benz, $47,000 to purchase a Range Rover, and $163,705 in “payments relating to three Range Rovers.”
Manafort and Gates have worked together for more than a decade. Gates interned at the lobbying firm Manafort ran with another former Trump adviser, Roger Stone, in the 1980s. He joined another firm headed by Manafort in 2006. Manafort was hired by the Trump campaign in late March 2016 to oversee delegate operations ahead of the Republican National Convention. He was named campaign chairman in mid-May 2016. Gates also worked with the campaign during Manafort’s tenure.
Manafort was fired by the Trump campaign in August 2016. In March, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Manafort was dismissed from the campaign because of negative headlines about his ties to Ukraine and performance issues.
The White House and Trump’s campaign have not responded to multiple requests for comment from Yahoo News. Trump responded to the news on Twitter, where he dismissed it as involving acts that allegedly took place “years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign.” The president also insisted there was “NO COLLUSION.”
Manafort is a key figure in Mueller’s Russia probe. In addition to his lobbying for Yanukovych, who was a Kremlin ally, Manafort worked for Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who was a Kremlin associate. During his time on Trump’s White House bid, Manafort also participated in a June 9, 2016, meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised the campaign damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
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