President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, formed a shell company the day he stepped down from guiding him. Following the exit, the company received $13 million in loans from two businesses with major ties to Trump, a bombshell report by The New York Times reveals.
One of the Trump-tied business that Manafort received payments from partners with a Ukrainian-born billionaire and another is led by a Trump economic adviser.
Although the purpose of the loans is not stated in public records, it is believed part of these loans were an attempt to stabilize his financial crisis after some failed business investments, made by his son-in-law, put the business in jeopardy.
One $3.5 million loan Manafort secured was from a private lending unit of Spruce Capital. The company’s co-founder, Joshua Crane, has been a developer of some of Trump’s hotel projects. It also has a connection with Ukraine through the billionaire Alexander Rovt.
The second loan taken out by the newly formed shell company was for $9.5 million from Federal Savings Bank of Chicago shortly after Election Day. The bank, which focuses on affordable mortgages for military veterans, is headed by Stephen M. Calk, a senior economic adviser to Trump at the time.
Over the last decade, Manafort has acquired millions of dollars and has invested in various properties. Some of his properties include apartments and condos in New York, homes in Florida and Virginia and luxury houses in Los Angeles.
As federal officials investigate Russian ties in the U.S. presidential election, Manafort’s ties with Ukraine and Russia have also come under examination. His offshore bank accounts in Cyprus have also come under scrutiny. However, there is no indication his recent loans are part of the inquiry.
It was earlier reported that Manafort had ties to a large Ukrainian network that used to “loot assets and influence elections” during former President Viktor F. Yanukovych’s administration. The Ukrainian investigators recovered handwritten papers, also known as the “black ledger,” from the office of former ruling party. The secret documents, which detail payments doled out by Ukraine’s pro-Russia party before it was deposed, lists $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments to Manafort between 2007 and 2012.
However, Manafort, who previously claimed the ledger is a fake, issued a statement saying all the payments he received were legal.
“Manafort has always denied that he ever received any cash payments for his work and has consistently maintained that he received all of his payments, for services rendered, through wire transfers conducted through the international banking system,” read the statement.
Manafort was serving in an unpaid capacity for Trump. The revelations regarding his recent transactions raise a number of questions, including whether his decision to turn to Trump-connected lenders was related to his role in the campaign.
The transactions also shed light on the real estate portfolio that Manafort acquired during and after the years he worked in Ukraine. The source of the money is not clear as he never filed lobbying registrations for his work in Ukraine that would have disclosed his compensation.