Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and longtime Republican operative Rick Gates pleaded not guilty to the charges against them in a 12-count indictment, ranging from money laundering to acting as unregistered agents of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s 31-page indictment against the two men alerted on how they concealed millions of dollars they made while working on behalf of a pro-Putin political party in Ukraine and used detailed schemes to funnel more than $75 million through offshore accounts to hide their activities and to avoid paying taxes on those earnings.
It stressed on the corruption sought out by both the men prior to joining team Trump.
It is pertinent to note these five big takeaways from the admonition.
1. Manafort and Gates concealed their foreign ties from the government
The duo hid the fact they were working for a foreign government and did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as required by law. According to the indictment, Manafort and Gates acted as “unregistered agents” doing lobbying work in the U.S. on behalf of pro-Russia Ukrainian political parties.
They worked for the Putin-backed Ukrainian, Victor Yanukovych, president of Ukraine from 2010 until 2014, when he was ousted by a protest movement.
Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), U.S. citizens involved in lobbying efforts on behalf of a foreign government or foreign entities affiliated with the government must formally disclose that information with the Department of Justice.
According to the Post, “Manafort provided image consulting to Yanukovych and members of his party during the parliamentary elections of 2006 and 2007, seeking to soften the edges of politicians from the rough industrial cities in Ukraine’s southeast.”
2. The Duo laundered Millions Of Dollars
To hide their Ukrainian connections, Manafort and Gates laundered the payments they received with a complex network of companies and bank accounts which were created both in the United States and overseas. Some of these companies included tax havens in Cyprus, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Seychelles.
According to the indictment, more than $75 million poured through their offshore bank accounts. Manafort allegedly laundered more than $18 million. He purchased property, goods, luxury cars and services with them in the U.S., without reporting the income to the government.
Meanwhile, Gates transferred $3 million from offshore bank accounts to other accounts owned by him.
They hid these proceeds to avoid paying taxes.
3. Manafort Has A “Lavish” Lifestyle, Though His Source Of Income Is A Mystery
Manafort lived in an apartment in Trump tower in 2006 way before he became the chairman for Trump’s campaign. According to WNYC, this was right around the time his lobbying firm signed a $10 million contract with a Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska — an overseas intermediary whom Manafort agreed to give personal briefings about the state of Trump’s presidential campaign, creating a potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a U.S. presidential campaign.
In 2012, he allegedly wired $2.85 million from offshore accounts to buy a Manhattan condo. He rented it out later using Airbnb to generate cash.
4. Manafort And Gates Mislead Federal Authorities With False Statements
The duo didn’t just lie about its Ukrainian connections and laundered money — they also actively lied to the federal government attempting to cover that activity up. Mueller’s indictment says when the Department of Justice inquired about Manafort and Gates’s foreign activities in 2016, the men provided “false and misleading statements.”
Deceiving federal agents is a criminal offense.
5. Both Men Were Accused Of “Conspiracy Against The U.S.”
Manafort and Gates have been accused of conspiring to commit offenses against and to defraud the U.S. government but not for conspiring with a foreign government to influence an election.
Gates and Manafort both surrendered to authorities on Monday morning and pleaded not guilty to all charges during a court appearance.
A spokesman for Gates said the former lobbyist "welcomes the opportunity to confront these charges in court."
A Manafort spokesman declined to comment.
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Reuters, James Lawler Duggan, Jim Urquhart