Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for Donald Trump, has been indicted on a number of counts regarding Ukraine lobbying in the US and related crimes between 2006-2016. Despite some media speculations, there is no Russia connection in the indictment.
A federal grand jury has indicted Manafort and his former business associate Gates on 12 counts related to their lobbying for a Ukrainian political party.
"The indictment contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts," the federal special counsel said in a statement.
The duo laundered over $18 million through offshore accounts, the indictment alleges, using the untaxed proceeds to lead lavish lifestyles. They also failed to register as agents of a foreign principal and made false and misleading statements to hide payments received from Ukraine, it said.
Manafort was seen leaving his home early Monday morning and later arriving at the FBI office in Washington.
Manafort’s lobbying past came under scrutiny last August, when he worked for the Trump campaign. The NYT reported at the time that he had received some $12.7 million in undisclosed payment from the party of deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who was considered to have Russian backing. The report was apparently based on information from a source involved in the Ukrainian investigation into alleged corruption of the former president.
The publication resulted in Manafort’s firing by the Trump campaign, with the US president distancing himself from the lobbyist.
There were no media reports that Manafort ever worked for the Russian government, but an AP report in March revealed he had a contract with Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska involving investment projects in Ukraine in the late 2000s.
The connection was confirmed by both parties. Some media speculated that Deripaska may have been used by the Russian government to further the Kremlin’s foreign policy goals and that Manafort may have been a key figure in those efforts. The businessman denied that his dealings with Manafort had anything to do with politics.
Amid the media speculations the White House denied that Trump was aware of Manafort’s work for Deripaska before joining his campaign. Trump’s then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer downplayed the role played by Manafort during his five-month collaboration with Trump, saying it was “very limited.”