Reports first emerged last summer that Paul Manafort was paid over $12 million dollars in under-the-table funds from pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. Funds may have still been flowing to Donald Trump’s campaign chairman even as he was working to put Trump in the White House.
It is not clear that Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine ended with his work with Mr. Trump’s campaign. A communications aide for Mr. Lyovochkin, who financed Mr. Manafort’s work, declined to say whether he was still on retainer or how much he had been paid.
Manafort’s secret finances were revealed in a “shadow ledger” found by Ukrainian officials last August, just before Manafort was forced to depart from the Trump campaign. Though Manafort has disputed the authenticity of the ledger, the Associated Press has now obtained financial records that show at least $1.2 million of the payments recorded were very real.
The two payments came years before Manafort became involved in Trump's campaign, but for the first time bolster the credibility of the ledger. They also put the ledger in a new light, as federal prosecutors in the U.S. have been investigating Manafort's work in Eastern Europe as part of a larger anti-corruption probe.
The secret pipeline between Kremlin bank accounts and Manafort’s pocket has already been the subject of blackmail attempts. Manafort also maintained an office front in Cyprus, which he used to launder funds through a number of banks, including the bank where Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross was vice-chair.
With investigators in both Ukraine and the United States digging into the ledger, Manafort’s fiscal dark net is starting to come into the light.
Previously, Manafort and his spokesman, Jason Maloni, have maintained the ledger was fabricated and said no public evidence existed that Manafort or others received payments recorded in it.
Why would Manafort have a secret ledger and a set of Cypriot bank accounts with a tendency to vanish when anyone started asking questions? Ukraine was not his first rodeo. Manafort, who formed a company with fellow Trump supporter Roger Stone, worked for such upstanding world citizens as Jonas Savimbi, Ferdinand Marcos, and Mobutu Sese Seko. He previously took money “off the books” in connection with the Karachi Affair, in which French politicians received kickbacks for selling submarines to Pakistan, and at the other end of the same deal, Manafort netted payments that were supposed to come from the Kashmiri American Council, but actually came from the Pakistani ISI secret police.
Across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, Paul Manafort has worked providing “strategy” for dictators and would-be dictators. In Ukraine, his work included not just handing over the government the pro-Russian govenrment of Viktor Yanukovych, but also arranging “spontaneous” protests that include throwing rocks at visiting US Marines and generating an excuse for Putin’s invasion of Crimea.
And then, of course, he went to work for Donald Trump. Gratis.
Manafort, a longtime Republican political operative, led the presidential campaign from March until August last year when Trump asked him to resign. The resignation came after a tumultuous week in which The New York Times revealed that Manafort's name appeared in the Ukraine ledger — although the newspaper said at the time that officials were unsure whether Manafort actually received the money — and after the AP separately reported that he had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation until 2014 on behalf of Ukraine's pro-Russian Party of Regions.
That lobbying operation also managed to violate laws on foreign lobbying. Because there doesn’t seem to be any law, or any nation, that Paul Manafort won’t break for cash.