Paul Manafort, who served as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman during part of the 2016 election, appears to have been actively involved in possible money laundering for a Russian oligarch with deep ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
An extensive investigation by NBC News reveals that Manafort accepted some $60 million in “loans” from Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska. NBC also reports:
According to company documents obtained by NBC News in Cyprus, funds were sent from a company owned by Deripaska to entities linked to Manafort, registered in Cyprus.
Trump, like Manafort, has a history of doing business with shady Russian figures: In 2008, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev purchased Maison de L’Amitie, a massive beachfront estate in Palm Beach, Florida, from Trump for $95 million. Trump paid $40 million for the property four years earlier, and some questioned why the Russian would have paid such an inflated price for the estate. Rybolovlev and Deripaska also have shared business interests across the globe.
How does Manafort explain the $60 billion he took from Deripaska? His spokesperson, Jason Maloni, commented:
“Mr. Manafort is not indebted to former clients today, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.
“Recent news reports indicate Mr. Manafort was under surveillance before he joined the campaign and after he left the campaign. He has called for the U.S. Government to release any intercepts involving him and non-Americans in hopes of finally putting an end to these wild conspiracy theories. Mr. Manafort did not collude with the Russian government.”
The specifics of the loans to Manafort from Deripaska certainly appear suspicious. NBC found:
$26 million was transferred from Oguster Management Ltd. — which is wholly owned by Deripaska, according to a disclosure filed at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange — to Yiakora Ventures Ltd. Yiakora, according to Cyprus financial documents, is a ‘related party’ to Manafort’s many interests on the island, a financial term meaning that Manafort’s interests have significant influence over Yiakora.
“The investigation also confirms a smaller loan of just $7 million from Oguster to another Manafort-linked company, LOAV Advisers Ltd., a figure first reported by The New York Times. Company documents reviewed by NBC News reveal the entire amount was unsecured, not backed by any collateral.”
Could the so-called “loans” have been something illegal? Stefan Cassella, a former federal prosecutor, commented:
“You can call it a loan, you can call it Mary Jane. If there’s no intent to repay it, then it’s not really a loan. It’s just a payment.”
As was the case in Watergate, money is the key to this story. Follow the money and it will lead you to the guilty parties.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org