NYT: Manafort Owed Pro-Russia Interests Millions Before Joining Trump Team

July 19, 2017 6:57 p.m.

Paul Manafort owed millions of dollars to pro-Russia interests before he became President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman last year, the New York Times reported late Wednesday.

According to the New York Times report, which cited financial records filed in Cyprus in 2016, Manafort — who kept bank accounts in the low tax jurisdiction — owed as much as $17 million to pro-Russia interests.

Shell companies connected to Manafort’s work for the now-defunct pro-Russian Party of Regions owed the money, according to the report.

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A spokesman for Manafort did not dispute the possibility that the debts existed, but told the New York Times the records were “stale and do not purport to reflect any current financial arrangements.”

The spokesman, Jason Maloni, said that Manafort “did not collude with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election” and “is not indebted to Mr. Deripaska or the Party of Regions, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.”

Aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin; according to the report, he alleged in 2015 that Manafort and his partners owed him $19 million in connection with a failed investment.

Manafort left Trump’s campaign in August 2016, four months after he became campaign chairman, amid questions about his activities in Ukrainian politics.

Serhiy Leshchenko, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, in March alleged that Manafort received illegal payments while working as a consultant for the Party of Regions.

NBC News reported days later that Manafort closed several bank accounts with the Cyprus Popular Bank years earlier after it launched an internal investigation into possible money laundering.

Manafort retroactively filed with the U.S. Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in June. Manafort’s filings revealed that his firm earned more than $17 million from the Party of Regions over just two years ago.

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