Monday, August 15, 2016

Secret Ukraine Ledger Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief

Trump and Manafort
If one is still wondering why Donald Trump will not release his tax returns, a new story in the New York Times that focuses on payments made to Trump Campaign chair, Paul Manafort, certainly suggests the Donald might too have income he want's no one in the American public to see.  The $12.7 million in payments made to Manafort were made by Ukraine's then pro-Russia government. The New York Times reports on the at best sleazy and at worst criminal activities of Trump's campaign chair.   No doubt the desperation of many in the GOP will only be intensified as this news makes its way across the news media and blogosphere.  Here are story excerpts (note how Manafort continued to work for anti-western interests):
On a leafy side street off Independence Square in Kiev is an office used for years by Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, when he consulted for Ukraine’s ruling political party. His furniture and personal items were still there as recently as May.
And Mr. Manafort’s presence remains elsewhere here in the capital, where government investigators examining secret records have found his name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort’s main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.
Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials. 
In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.
[A]n examination of Mr. Manafort’s activities offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.
Anti-corruption officials there say the payments earmarked for Mr. Manafort, previously unreported, are a focus of their investigation, though they have yet to determine if he actually received the cash. While Mr. Manafort is not a target in the separate inquiry of offshore activities, prosecutors say he must have realized the implications of his financial dealings.
“He understood what was happening in Ukraine,” said Vitaliy Kasko, a former senior official with the general prosecutor’s office in Kiev. “It would have to be clear to any reasonable person that the Yanukovych clan, when it came to power, was engaged in corruption.”
The developments in Ukraine underscore the risky nature of the international consulting that has been a staple of Mr. Manafort’s business since the 1980s, when he went to work for the Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Before joining Mr. Trump’s campaign this spring, Mr. Manafort’s most prominent recent client was Mr. Yanukovych, who — like Mr. Marcos — was deposed in a popular uprising.
Before he fled to Russia two years ago, Mr. Yanukovych and his Party of Regions relied heavily on the advice of Mr. Manafort and his firm, who helped them win several elections. During that period, Mr. Manafort never registered as a foreign agent with the United States Justice Department — as required of those seeking to influence American policy on behalf of foreign clients — although one of his subcontractors did.
While working in Ukraine, Mr. Manafort had also positioned himself to profit from business deals that benefited from connections he had gained through his political consulting. One of them, according to court filings, involved a network of offshore companies that government investigators and independent journalists in Ukraine have said was used to launder public money and assets purportedly stolen by cronies of the government.
The role of the offshore companies in business dealings involving Mr. Manafort came to light because of court filings in the Cayman Islands and in a federal court in Virginia related to an investment fund, Pericles Emerging Markets. Mr. Manafort and several partners started the fund in 2007, and its major backer was Mr. Deripaska, the Russian mogul, to whom the State Department has refused to issue a visa, apparently because of allegations linking him to Russian organized crime, a charge he has denied.
Mr. Manafort continued working in Ukraine after the demise of Mr. Yanukovych’s government, helping allies of the ousted president and others form a political bloc that opposed the new pro-Western administration. Some of his aides were in Ukraine as recently as this year, and Ukrainian company records give no indication that Mr. Manafort has formally dissolved the local branch of his company, Davis Manafort International, directed by a longtime assistant, Konstantin V. Kilimnik.

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