- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort for the third time.

In yet another superseding indictment, Mr. Manafort is alleged to have secretly paid former European politicians to lobby on behalf of the Ukraine.

The new allegations surfaced just hours after Mr. Manafort’s longtime business associate, Rick Gates pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the U.S. and lying the FBI.

Although the indictment was filed last week, it was made public until Friday afternoon.

Mr. Manafort and Gates secretly funded a group of former leaders informally called the “Hapsburg Group,” to provide what appeared to be an “independent assessment” of the Ukrainian government’s actions when, in fact, they were paid lobbyists, prosecutors allege.

In 2012 and 2013, the two used at least four offshore accounts to wire more than 2 million euros to the group of former politicians.

The group was managed by an unidentified European chancellor referred in court documents as Foreign Politician A in coordination with Mr. Manafort, politicians alleged. Politicians from the Hapsburg group lobbied members of Congress, officials in the Obama administration in 2013, prosecutors allege.

The new indictment piles on five new counts against Mr. Manafort, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, filing false and misleading financial statements, false statements, and knowingly and willfully acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government.

Mr. Mueller is now seeking forfeiture of Mr. Manafort’s assets, including a homes in Brooklyn, Arlington, Va., and the Hamptons along with his life insurance policy and two U.S. bank accounts.

Mr. Manafort did immediately comment on the new charges. But earlier in the day he maintained released a statement maintaining his innocence after Gates pleaded guilty.

“This does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue piled up charges contained in the indictments against me,” he said.

The new charges were made public one day after prosecutors filed a superseding indictment against Gates and Mr. Manafort. They are accused of of laundering millions of dollars through offshore bank accounts while acting as unregistered agents of the Ukrainian government and hiding those funds from the Treasury and Justice departments. Roughly $75 million was funneled to offshore bank accounts controlled by Mr. Manafort.

Prosecutors alleged the pair used those funds to pay for personal expenses. Gates paid for his children’s tuition and redecorated his home, while Mr. Manafort lived a “lavish lifestyle” in the United States.

In October, the two were charged with conspiracy and money laundering. Both have pleaded not guilty, but Gates changed his plea Friday. Mr. Manafort is expected to go trial later this year.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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