Apr 12, 2017

Records confirm Manafort received payments from Ukraine

Matt Rourke / AP

Financial records confirm that Paul Manafort's firm received at least $1.2 million in payments from clients, which were originally listed on a handwritten ledger that surfaced in Ukraine in August when Manafort was still Trump's campaign chairman, The Associated Press reported.

Why it matters: Although the details of the ledger are unrelated to the 2016 presidential election, the newly-confirmed payouts suggest Manafort had pro-Russia operations while he was managing Trump's presidential campaign — and he is currently part of a larger FBI investigation into Trump campaign members and their potential ties to Russia.

Manafort's firm: He had a lobbying firm called Davis Manafort located in Kiev, Ukraine, for many years where he acted as a consultant for the country's pro-Russian ruling political party at the time, when Viktor Yanukovych was president. Yanukovych was also Manafort's main client, and some Ukrainian officials think the payments indicate evidence of a corruption scandal between Yanukovych's party and various clients of Manafort's firm.

The initial documents: The ledger, which originally surfaced in August, showed $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments from Yanukovych's political party to Manafort between 2007-2012, per the country's National Anti-Corruption Bureau. The bureau argued that the payments were off-the-books and illegal, often going to election officials.

More money, more problems: "Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump's Campaign Chief." Trump fired Manafort as his campaign chairman in August when the New York Times broke the story of his firm's connections to Yanukovych and his pro-Russia political party.

The confirmed payments, obtained by AP:

  • November 2007, a payment of $455,249 from Graten Alliance Ltd., a now-inactive company that had been registered in Belize.
  • Oct. 14, 2009, a payment of $750,000 from the Party of Regions. A Ukrainian lawmaker argued in March that this payment was part of a larger money-laundering effort conducted by Yanukovych's political party.

Odd detail: The October 2009 payment invoice was actually addressed to Neocom Systems Ltd., which is another company that had been registered in Belize, but the banking details (address, account and routing numbers) belonged to Manafort's Wachovia National Bank account in Alexandria, Virginia.

The explanation: Although Manafort had previously disputed the authenticity of the ledger, he said in a statement to AP that "any wire transactions received by my company are legitimate payments for political consulting work that was provided. I invoiced my clients and they paid via wire transfer, which I received through a U.S. bank," adding that he was paid according to his "clients' preferred financial institutions and instructions."

The explanation pt. 2:"Mr. Manafort's work in Ukraine was totally open and appropriate and wire transfers for international work are perfectly legal," Jason Maloni, Manafort's spokesman, said in an email statement today.

What's next: Ukrainian officials have been investigating Manafort's involvement with Yanukovych, particularly after he was ousted as president in 2014 and fled to Russia, which is also when Ukrainian assets were stolen. There's no telling whether things will go, but between the Ukrainian and FBI investigations, Manafort's financial disclosures and ties to Russia will continue to be under scrutiny.

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