Manafort had plan to benefit Putin government

Author

04 April, 2017

A Russian billionaire paid former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort millions of dollars to boost the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Associated Press reports.

The Associated Press has learned the information about Paul Manafort's transactions was turned over earlier this year to USA agents working in the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

In response to questions about Mr Manafort's consulting firm, a spokesman for Mr Deripaska in 2008 - at least three years after they began working together - said Mr Deripaska had never hired the firm.

Manafort was Trump's unpaid campaign chairman from March until August a year ago.

While Manafort stepped down from the campaign role in August after reports surfaced of his collaboration with ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a new Associated Press report alleges that he collaborated with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska for years to promote the interests of the Putin government and stifle anti-Russian opposition across numerous post-Soviet countries. According to those records and people with direct knowledge of Manafort's work for Deripaska, Manafort made plans to open an office in Moscow and at least some of Manafort's work in Ukraine was directed by Deripaska, not local political interests there.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is holding open hearings Thursday on Russian interference in the USA election through technology and disinformation, with a slate of academic and cybersecurity experts scheduled to testify, including former NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander.

Manafort chaired the Trump campaign from March 2016 until August, when he resigned amid revelations about his work for a Ukrainian political party aligned with Russian Federation.

AP that included strategy memoranda and records showing global wire transfers for millions of dollars.

In the 2014 case, Manafort used Cypriot shell companies as part of a almost $19 million deal with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to purchase Ukrainian cable television provider Black Sea Cable.

Manafort, in a statement to the AP Thursday when asked about the Cyprus transactions, characterized them as a normal practice.

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In this October 30, 2013, file photo, a man uses an ATM machine outside of a branch of Bank of Cyprus in capital Nicosia, Cyprus.

Manafort's plans were laid out in documents obtained by the AP that included strategy memoranda and records showing worldwide wire transfers for millions of dollars. The $1 million left the account the same day - split in two, roughly $500,000 disbursements to accounts with no obvious owner.

There is nothing inherently illicit about using multiple companies as Manafort was doing.

Records show Mr Manafort was known to route financial transactions through Cyprus. Another Deripaska spokesman in Moscow last week declined to answer AP's questions. "We often get press inquiries concerning individuals and our policy is to never confirm, nor deny the existence, or non-existence, of any potential investigation", Hudak said.

In this September 19, 2014 file-pool photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Russian metals magnate Oleg Deripaska while visiting the RusVinyl plant in Kstovo, in Russia's Nizhny Novgorod region. Investigators are reviewing whether the Trump campaign and its associates coordinated with Moscow to meddle in the 2016 campaign.

Manafort has dismissed the investigations as politically motivated and misguided, and said he never worked for Russian interests.

"Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?"

Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees said the new revelations will feature in the congressional investigations. "This is now dam-breaking with water flushing out with all kinds of entanglements". However, as Comey was testifying at Monday's House Intelligence hearing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer falsely claimed that Manafort played a "very limited role" in Trump's campaign.

Spicer says Trump was not aware of Manafort's clients from the past decade and there are "no suggestions" Manafort did anything improper.


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