Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, is working with a Chinese billionaire to help him navigate U.S. building contracts should Trump push through an infrastructure plan, the Financial Times reported Monday.
Manafort met last week with Yan Jiehe, the founder of Pacific Construction Group in Shanghai. Yan told the Financial Times ahead of the meeting that Manafort would help him with the process of winning infrastructure contracts in the United States.
A spokesman for Manafort denied that the former Trump aide was helping Yan land infrastructure projects, however.
“The Pacific Construction Group was an impromptu meeting added to Mr Manafort’s schedule at their request because the Chinese are interested in US infrastructure,” Jason Maloni told the Financial Times. “However, his work does not involve any current or future infrastructure projects or contracts in the United States. As he has said before, he is not engaged in government affairs or lobbying for corporations, governments or individuals.”
Yan seemed confident he could win a construction bid in the United States.
“I will not seek out Trump. He will seek me out,” he told the Financial Times. “In the entire world, I am definitely the most ideal privately owned unit to invest in construction. In the whole world, there’s not another company equal to Pacific Construction.”
Manafort, whose previous work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine has been subject to intense scrutiny, said last week that he would belatedly register with the U.S. government as a foreign agent. Following a slew of recent reports about Manafort’s ties to Russia, the White House has tried to distance Trump from Manafort, while the FBI and congressional committees probe any potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia.