Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaving the Federal District Court after a hearing, in Washington.  File picture: Jose Luis Magana/AP
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaving the Federal District Court after a hearing, in Washington. File picture: Jose Luis Magana/AP

Paul Manafort fights use of incriminating financial records at fraud trial

By Rachel Weiner Time of article published Jun 29, 2018

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Having lost his fight to have the bank and tax fraud case against him thrown out of Alexandria, Virginia, federal court, Paul Manafort Friday will try to have the financial records found in his condo and storage unit tossed.

Those records were obtained through search warrants partially released this week that detail the extent to which the ex-lobbyist found himself in debt and dependent on money from pro-Russian interests.

On loan applications over a three-month period in 2016, Manafort variously represented his net worth as $15 million, $17 million, $21 million and $36 million, according to the court documents.

"He is so in debt," an unidentified person wrote in an email regarding a $3.5 million loan to Manafort from a real estate company on Sept. 27, 2016, the documents state.

Manafort became Trump's campaign chairman in May 2016 and resigned in August amid reporting on his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. He now faces charges related to that work in both Alexandria and D.C. federal court, where a judge recently ordered him jailed until trial.

He will not appear in person Friday, having requested that he not be transferred from jail in Virginia's Northern Neck.

His attorneys are asking Judge T.S. Ellis III, who this week ruled that Manafort's trial can go forward next month, to find that the searches were unconstitutional. An employee did not have authority to let agents into his storage unit, he argued, and were given too much leeway to seize items at his condo.

The records they found, according to FBI agents, include evidence that Manafort lied to obtain millions of dollars in loans and to obscure the money he was paid by former Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych.

"Based on reporting from multiple sources, the FBI believes that Yanukovych's government engages in systemic public corruption," one affidavit reads.

In February 2016, Manafort secured $9 million in loans from Genesis Capital, one he personally guaranteed and the other backed by a property in Los Angeles. Genesis moved to foreclose on the Brooklyn house in September 2016 after both sets of loans went into default.

At one point that month, according to the court documents, Manafort was being assessed over $2,000 a day in interest after missing two months' payment on one of the loans.

Manafort then secured a $16 million loan from an unnamed party, according to the court documents, in part to refinance the Genesis loans and save his townhouse from foreclosure.

Six years earlier, Manafort reported on his tax returns a $10 million loan that appeared to come from Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to President Vladimir Putin, according to the filings.

The court documents also detail more of Manafort's lavish spending, including $49,000 to stay with his wife at a villa in Italy and $21,000 for a limited-edition titanium "Royal Way" watch from the luxury men's store House of Bijan.

Prosecutors unsealed the redacted search warrants because they said they believe they will be exhibits at Friday's hearing.

Redactions were necessary, Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye wrote in a motion, because they contain information about the ongoing investigation and uncharged individuals that remains hidden to the public.

Manafort has filed similar motions in the District of Columbia and is awaiting a ruling from Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

The Washington Post

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