Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, has been indicted on money laundering charges and tax evasion using overseas shell companies to funnel millions of dollars to buy luxury cars, real estate, antiques and expensive suits. The federal indictment describes in granular detail Mr. Manafort’s lobbying work in Ukraine and what prosecutors said was a scheme to hide that money from tax collectors and the public. The authorities said Mr. Manafort laundered more than $18 million.
Manafort’s associate Rick Gates was also indicted on similar charges. The two are also charged with making false statements.
“As part of the scheme, Manafort and Gates repeatedly provided false information to financial bookkeepers, tax accountants and legal counsel, among others,” the indictment read.
Manafort and Gates were indicted on 12 counts, according to a 31-page indictment unsealed on Monday morning, including money laundering, operating as unregistered foreign agents of the government of Ukraine, failing to disclose overseas bank accounts and making false statements to federal authorities.
While both Manafort and Gates had top roles in the Trump campaign, the criminal charges do not discuss any actions clearly related to the presidential race, although the indictment notes that a Ukrainian political party the men worked for had a pro-Russia outlook.
Also, the charges could be used to apply pressure on the two former officials to more fully cooperate in Mueller’s larger investigation.
The indictments were made public as news that George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, secretly pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI about the campaign’s outreach to Russian officials.
President Trump downplayed the news in two separate tweets while asking why is his former presidential rival not the subject of the Mueller probe. “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????”
Manafort, a longtime GOP operative, had been under Justice Department investigation since early 2014 — long before Trump announced his presidential campaign – over his ties to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who abandoned office in February 2014 and fled to Russia amid protests and allegations of government corruption.
The charges focused on Manafort’s and Gates’ lobbying work on behalf of the Ukrainian government and Yanukovych between 2006 and 2015.
The work generated tens of millions of dollars, which was then laundered through “scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts,” according to the indictment. The charges allege both tax avoidance and concealment of their work as foreign agents. Manafort laundered more than $18 million, according to the indictment.
The scrutiny into Manafort’s record took on new relevance after investigators began looking at Russian interference in the 2016 election.