Paul Manafort was the second of an eventual three individuals to head Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, leaving his post after his past work for Russian government affiliated interests in Europe was revealed.
Taking a small step back from public scrutiny via leaving his high profile position as head of Trump’s presidential campaign was not the end of Manafort’s troubles, with a new BuzzFeed report shining light on exactly why it is that federal investigators have been so interested in Manafort for some time. The investigation into Manafort reached such a fever pitch that the FBI executed a search warrant at his Virginia home in the very early morning hours some weeks ago.
According to BuzzFeed, the investigation into Manafort has focused on 13 suspicious wire transfers from offshore shell companies connected to Manafort, with much of the over $3 million total in transferred money coming into the United States. These transfers all took place in 2012 and 2013.
The funds were transferred “in round-dollar amounts without explanation of what the money was to be used for,” with officials adding that the origin of the money was concealed via layers of shell companies. The transactions themselves largely originated in areas “notorious for money laundering,” including Cyprus and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
American financial institutions are required by law to report transactions that total more than $10,000 in a single day, as well as anything else which is out of the ordinary, which is how the transactions ever came to light. According to an individual identified only as a former treasury official, information about the suspicious transactions connected to Manafort was “forwarded to the FBI’s International Corruption Unit and the Department of Justice for further investigation in 2013 and 2014” by the Treasury Department.
Authorities suspect that the transfers could represent an attempt by Manafort to hide money from governmental authorities, perhaps because the money came from the regime of the now former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, for whom Manafort worked for some time. Yanukovych’s embezzlement of state funds while president earned him charges of treason in the Ukraine; he currently lives in Russia.
Among other suspicious transfers, toward the end of Yanukovych’s rule, a shell company of Manafort’s hired by the leader sent about $750,000 out of the Ukraine.
The suspicious transfers, although they were known several years ago, came back under federal scrutiny recently with the advent of the Russia investigation. Earlier this year, the Treasury Department sent copies of records of the suspicious transactions to the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees and again to the FBI.
Besides his inclusion in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump team, Manafort has reportedly also been being investigated for potential money laundering by federal investigators in New York City.
Last Friday, CNN reported that Mueller’s team had filed charges against an unspecified member of Trump’s team, and we’ve yet to see how those reported charges play out. Manafort could be the one being charged with a crime; reports asserted that preparations were being made to take someone into custody as soon as Monday.
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