Mueller: Secret Court Order Suspended Statute Of Limitations On Manafort Charge

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller obtained a secret order from a federal magistrate judge to suspend the statute of limitations on one of the charges he ultimately brought against Paul Manafort, a court filing revealed Monday evening. Mueller did not inform Manafort of the secret order until after the former Trump campaign chairman had requested that charge be thrown out, the filing said.

Mueller also disclosed in the Monday court filing that, as recently as April 30 of this year, the government of Cyprus was still turning over documents related to the special counsel’s Manafort investigation.

Because investigators were relying on a foreign government to produce certain evidence, Mueller last June asked a magistrate judge in Virginia to suspend the statute of limitations on the charge that Manafort failed to to file a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR), according to the filing. Mueller ultimately brought that charge against Manafort in February. The judge’s decision granting Mueller’s request to suspend the statute of limitations was previously under seal, but was included in Monday’s filings.

The revelation came in a response to Manafort’s motion to dismiss the FBAR charge in the Eastern District of Virginia, where he is also facing tax fraud and bank fraud charges. That case is in addition to the one brought in Washington, D.C., where Manafort has been charged with money laundering and failure to disclose foreign lobbying.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

“Because the government secured a timely and valid order in this District to suspend the running of the applicable statute of limitations until at least the date on which the Superseding Indictment was returned, Manafort’s motion should be denied,” Mueller said in his motion.

According to Monday’s filing, investigators first sought the documents from Cyprus in early June 2017. The request is called a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT), and it was filed through the Office of International Affairs of the United States Department of Justice.

Investigators were seeking “among other evidence, bank records, articles of incorporation, and witness interviews concerning certain of Manafort and Richard Gates’s bank accounts in Cyprus,” according to the filing.

Because the statute of limitations was set to run out on June 29 — five years after the June 29, 2012 deadline Manafort would have faced to file the foreign bank report with the U.S. Treasury — prosecutors on June 26 came to Judge Claude M. Hilton with their request, which was filed ex parte, meaning only the government’s side was aware of it, and not Manafort.

Cyprus’ production of evidence has taken months, according to the filing, and investigators wrote to Cypriot authorities in December informing them that they were still missing some of the Manafort documents they had requested. Cyprus’ government did not respond to the request until April 30 this year, according to Monday’s filing, well after Mueller’s grand jury in Virginia handed down indictments against Manafort in February.

“The bottom line, then, is that Cyprus had not fully satisfied the government’s official request when the original and Superseding Indictment of Manafort were returned on February 13 and 22, respectively,” Mueller said. “As a result, no ‘final action’ had yet occurred as of the date of the operative indictments, and the applicable statute of limitations remained suspended.”

Cyprus began turning over documents in September, 2017, according to the filing.

Mueller’s filing also revealed that, at the time Manafort requested that the FBAR charge be thrown out, the prosecutors had not yet informed him of their successful request to have the statute of limitations suspended.

“The government has now produced that Order to the defense, together with redacted versions of the MLAT requests themselves,” the filing said.

Read the full filing below:

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