10 things we learned from Paul Manafort's indictment
Paul Manafort, the one-time chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, turned himself in early Monday to face charges stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Manafort and business associate Richard Gates were indicted by a Washington, D.C. grand jury on Friday.
However, the 31-page indictment unsealed Monday details alleged illegal conduct that mostly occurred years before Manafort joined the Trump campaign and is completely unrelated to Russia. Manafort is expected to appear in court Monday, but he and his attorneys have not yet made a statement on the charges.
In the past, Manafort has denied engaging in any illegal activity. The White House has not commented officially on the development, but President Trump tweeted that the alleged crimes occurred “years ago” and maintained there was “NO COLLUSION!” with Russia.
The indictment revealed a number of significant details about the charges against Manafort and Gates:
1. Manafort faces nine counts and Gates faces eight. Both are charged with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, being an unregistered foreign agent, making false statements, and false and misleading statements under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Manafort is charged with four counts of failure to file reports on foreign bank and financial accounts, and Gates is charged with three.
2. The indictment largely deals with the work of Manafort and his “right-hand man” Gates as consultants and lobbyists for the Ukrainian government, the Party of Regions, the Opposition Bloc, and President Victor Yanukovych. Millions of dollars in profits from this work were illegally held in offshore accounts, according to prosecutors, and illegally used for purchases in the U.S. without reporting them as taxable income. Prosecutors allege that Manafort laundered more than $18 million from these accounts, and Gates transferred more than $3 million to his own accounts.
3. Manafort allegedly used laundered funds for $12 million worth of personal items, including real estate transactions and purchases at an antique rug store, clothing stores, and an antique dealer. He also is accused of making payments on a Mercedes Benz and at least three Range Rovers with money from accounts in Cyprus. Prosecutors say Gates spent funds from offshore accounts on payments for his mortgage, his children’s tuition, and interior decorating.
4. Prosecutors allege that Manafort used offshore funds and property purchased with them to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in mortgages and loans with more favorable rates than he otherwise could secure. In one case, the indictment states that he falsely represented to a bank that a condo on Howard Street in Manhattan was his daughter’s secondary home, when it was actually being used for rental through Airbnb and other services from at least January 2015 through 2016.
5. According to prosecutors, the “scheme” perpetrated by Manafort and Gates involved more than 20 businesses owned or controlled by them in the U.S., plus 12 entities owned or controlled by them based in Cyprus, two in the Grenadines, and one in the U.K.
6. The indictment alleges that Manafort and Gates failed to provide a written registration statement to the Department of Justice disclosing their work on behalf of a foreign power or political party between 2006 and 2014.
7. Prosecutors say Manafort and Gates had authority over multiple accounts for which foreign bank account reports where required to be filed to the U.S. Treasury. Despite $75 million allegedly passing through offshore accounts in the years covered by the indictment, they did not file such reports and claimed repeatedly in tax filings that Manafort had no foreign accounts.
8. Manafort and Gates allegedly hired two companies not identified in the indictment to engage in “extensive lobbying” on behalf of an entity called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Prosecutors say the Centre was a “mouthpiece” controlled by Yanukovych’s government. After initial media reports on his Ukraine dealings last August, Manafort is accused of distributing false talking points to one of those companies attempting to distance himself and the Ukrainian government from the Centre.
9. According to prosecutors, Manafort and Gates “caused false and misleading letters to be submitted to the Department of Justice” in November 2016 and February 2017. Those letters claimed that their work for the Party of Regions did not include outreach in the U.S., that they did not recall meeting with government officials or media outlets on behalf of the Centre, and that they did not retain communications for longer than 30 days. The indictment alleges that all of those statements were untrue, and that they were actively involved in lobbying efforts for the party and the Centre.
10. If Manafort is convicted, prosecutors intend to seek forfeiture of four homes and any other property derived from proceeds traceable to his alleged offenses.
Additional documents released by the special counsel’s office Monday revealed that George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty earlier this month to making false statements to FBI agents.
According to a statement of the offense filed by prosecutors, Papadopoulos admitted to interactions with a professor with “substantial connections to Russian government officials” about obtaining “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” but he falsely claimed those conversations occurred before joining the campaign.