Republican nominee Donald Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort has become embroiled in an illegal money laundering system from the former Ukrainian ruling Party of Regions.
Manafort’s name appeared in a ledger of illegal payments tied to the former government, although there is no evidence he received those payments, The New York Times reports.
From 2007 to 2012, Manafort had been a top political consultant and lobbyist for former Party of Regions President Viktor F. Yanukovych of Ukraine, who was overthrown in 2012.
Yanukovych had been a staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. His ouster prompted Russian forces to invade Ukraine. The freshly formulated National Anti-Corruption Bureau has discovered a paper trail of illegal payments to allies of the Yanukovych government.
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After rooting through the records from the former Party of Regions headquarters in Kiev, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau discovered a black ledger that kept track of the illegal payments.
The agency announced Manafort’s name was recorded in the ledger 22 separate times from 2007 to 2012 to the sum of $12.7 million. The bureau has not been able to verify whether Trump's campaign chairman ever received the payments.
“Paul Manafort is among those names on the list of so-called ‘black accounts of the Party of Regions,’ which the detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine are investigating,” the agency said in an official statement. “We emphasize that the presence of P. Manafort’s name in the list does not mean that he actually got the money, because the signatures that appear in the column of recipients could belong to other people.”
Criminal prosecutors are also investigating offshore shell companies that Manafort was allegedly involved in. A huge investor in the shell companies was Russian oligarch and Putin-ally Oleg Deripaska.
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On Aug. 15, Manafort released a statement blasting the allegations that he had accepted illegal payments from the former Yanukovych government.
“Once again, the New York Times has chosen to purposefully ignore facts and professional journalism to fit their political agenda, choosing to attack my character and reputation rather than present an honest report,” Manafort said in an official statement, according to Politico.
“The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical,” Manafort added.
The Trump campaign has been repeatedly criticized for allegedly promoting pro-Russian policies and sentiments. The only plank of the GOP party platform that the Trump campaign had directly influenced was an amendment calling for the arming of Ukraine against Russia. Trump campaign staffers intervened and called for the amendment’s language to be softened, according to The Washington Post.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman Robby Mook released a statement calling for Trump to “disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort’s and all other campaign employees’ and advisers’ ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including whether any of Trump’s employees or advisers are currently representing and or being paid by them.”