Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Last Call For Ukraine, You Saw, You Laundered

Hey guys, remember our old friend Paul Manafort?  Trump's former campaign manager who resigned in disgrace after the world found out he was in Putin's circle so deeply that he previously worked for Putin's front man in Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich?

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 residencewith 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.

Well after yesterday's Trump/Russia bombshell from the FBI and NSA, the Ukrainians are playing hardball again as Andrew Roth at the Washington Post picks up this story from Kiev.

A Ukrainian lawmaker on Tuesday released new financial documents allegedly showing that a former campaign chairman to President Trump laundered payments from the party of a disgraced ex-leader of Ukraine using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan. 
The new documents may revive questions about the ties between the Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and the party of the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who has been in hiding in Russia since being overthrown by pro-Western protestors in 2014. He is wanted in Ukraine on corruption charges. 
Manafort, who worked for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions for nearly a decade, resigned from Trump’s campaign in August after his name in connection with secret payments totaling $12.7 million by Yanukovych’s party. Manafort has denied receiving those payments, listed in the party’s so-called “black ledger.” 
The latest documents were released just hours after the House Intelligence Committee questioned FBI Director James Comey about possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow, which also touched on Manafort’s work for Yanukovych’s party in Ukraine. 
Comey declined to say whether or not the FBI was coordinating with Ukraine on an investigation into the alleged payments to Manafort.

Oops.  And yes, given the events of the last 36 hours, the Manafort story is very much relevant again even after Trump booted him in August, because we now know that the FBI investigation into Trump's connections to Russia began earlier in late July and is even now continuing.

Serhiy Leshchenko, a lawmaker and journalist, released a copy of an invoice on letterhead from Manafort’s Alexandria, Va.-based consulting company from Oct. 14, 2009 to a Belize-based company for $750,000 for the sale of 501 computers. 
On the same day, Manafort’s name is listed next to a $750,000 entry in the “black ledger,” which was viewed as a party slush fund. The list was found at the party headquarters in the turmoil after Ukraine’s 2014 revolution. The ledger entries about Manafort were released by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, a government law enforcement agency, last August.

Leshchenko alleges that Manafort falsified an invoice to the Belize company in order to legitimize the $750,000 payment to himself. 
“I have found during this investigation that [Manafort] used offshore jurisdictions and falsified invoices to get money from the corrupt Ukrainian leader,” Leshchenko said during a press-conference in downtown Kiev, where he provided a copy of the invoice to journalists.

This is a huge story guys, it's not going away, and it's going to turn up evidence that buries Trump and the GOP for a long time.  Manafort was in Putin's pocket and crooked as hell and had been for years, and then he ends up Trump's campaign director, when Trump himself has major ties to Putin's circle of oligarchs?  C'mon.

Oh, and Manafort?  Still lives in Trump Tower.

Follow the money.

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