Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates were charged today with “conspiracy against the United States,” among other things. They are the first to be named by a months-long investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections.
Charges detailed in a 31-page indictment also include “conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA [Foreign Agent Registration Act] statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts,” according to a statement from the special prosecutor’s office.
Between “at least 2006 and 2015, Manafort and Gates acted as unregistered agents of the government of Ukraine,” the indictment says, and of a Ukraine political party led by former Ukraine president Victor Yanukovych. The pair was paid “tens of millions of dollars,” then hid those payments from US authorities by laundering them through US and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts. They lied to their tax preparers, to US tax authorities, and to the Department of Justice when asked about these accounts, the indictment also claims.
Among other things, Gates and Manafort used dozens of limited liability companies and offshore partnerships to move money around, according to the indictment. That includes 17 that were based in the US and a dozen in Cyprus (page 4 and 5 of the indictement).
Manafort wired money from these accounts to buy properties in the US, and then used the properties as collateral to take out loans that funded a free-spending lifestyle, including hundreds of thousands of dollars on clothes, antiques, rugs, and a Mercedes (page 7-14).
Here is a summary of the 12 counts against Manafort and Gates:
Count one: Conspiracy against the US.
The two, “together with others…knowingly and intentionally conspired to defraud the US by impeding, impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful functions” of the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury.
Count two: Conspiracy to launder money.
The two “knowingly and intentionally” transferred money to and through the US, with the “intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity.”
Count three through six: Paul Manafort failed to report his foreign bank accounts with the US Treasury from 2011 through 2014.
Count seven through nine: Richard Gates failed to report his foreign bank accounts with the US Treasury from 2011 through 2013.
Count 10: Unregistered agent of a FARA principal.
Both Gates and Manafort failed to register as lobbyists of a foreign agent, as required under the Foreign Agent Registration Act first passed in 1938, the indictment says.
Count 11: False and misleading FARA statements.
Both Manafort and Gates lied in statements made to the Attorney General about lobbying for foreign agents, the indictment says. These include false statements about “meeting or conducting outreach to US government officials,” and false claims that their work on behalf of Yanukovych’s party did not include “meeting or outreach in the US.”
The two also claimed that they could not turn over email correspondence linked to a partnership they formed, because it “does not retain communications beyond 30 days.”
Count 12: False and misleading statements.
The two lied repeatedly to the DOJ, the count says, in statements submitted in November 2016 and February 2017. In addition, they also had other people “falsify, conceal, and cover up, by a scheme and device a material fact,” make “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements,” and use “false writing” and documents.