It has come to light that Paul Manafort, previously Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, was paid at least $1.2 million by “Black Ledger.” According to newly revealed documents his so called “black ledger” was used by a political party in the Ukraine to make payments off the book.
Handwritten documents were obtained by the Associated Press that confirm the ledger in fact exists, despite Manafort’s claims that the ledger was fabricated. The ledger also seems to show that his consulting firm was paid through it.
Manafort, a strong Republican and political operative who led Trump’s presidential campaign from March until August of last year, before he was asked to step down by Trump. Manafort’s resignation from the campaign came shortly after The New York Times linked his name to the Ukraine ledger publicly, even though they reported at the time that officials could not be positive whether Manafort had actually received the money.
Payments shown on the document were made between 2007 and 2009, which was years before Manafort ever served as Trumps campagn chairman — but could still prove very helpful to investigators in both the Ukraine and the U.S.
According to Ukrainian investigators, the evidence points towards a much larger pattern of corruption under the country’s former president, Victor Yanukovych. Federal prosecutors in the United States are investigating the work of Manafort in Eastern Europe as a part of an anti-corruption case. Manafort is also under FBI investigation due possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Manafort and his spokesman previously denied that the ledger even existed, however now Manafort seems to be changing his tune. He doesn’t deny that his consulting firm received wire transactions, but claims:
‘Any wire transactions received by my company are legitimate payments for political consulting work that was provided. I invoiced my clients and they paid via wire transfer, which I received through a U.S. bank.’
A lawmaker in the Ukraine had accused Manafort of laundering money, and U.S. authorities have investigated his dealings with banks in Cyprus known for previously laundering money. Manafort claimed that the bank was the choice of the client as he agreed to be paid according to his “clients preferred financial institutions and instructions.”
Records of Manafort’s transactions have been requested by the U.S. Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. This department works internationally with various agencies to track money laundering and how illicit funds are transferred around the globe. The Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau has stated that they are not investigating Manafort, as he is not a Ukrainian citizen.
A large amount of Ukranian political figures implicated in the Black Ledger are currently under investigation in Ukraine. The anti-corruption Bureau, which has been investigating into the Black Ledger, made a public confirmation that signature of one of the top officials listed on it is in fact authentic.
Manafort reportedly told the Associated Press that he cannot review his own banking records to show a receipt of the payments, as his bank has destroyed the records after a 7-year retention period.
While this took place years before Manafort worked for President Trump, it still doesn’t look good that yet another person who was once part of his circle is involved in another scandal, especially one that has significant ties to Russia.
The Bureau has said it would identify more suspects and have more information in the coming months.
Feature Image via Getty Images.