ALEXANDRIA, VA — Prosecutors on Monday, for the first time since Paul Manafort’s trial began last week, brought up $10 million that Manafort received from Russian Oleg Deripaska.
Deripaska is a Russian oligarch, ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and former business associate of Manafort’s who backed some of his work in Ukraine. Deripaska claims Manafort owes him millions of dollars following his investment in one of Manafort’s projects, a Ukrainian telecom company called Black Sea Cable.
During the 2016 campaign, Manafort reportedly discussed with his Ukrainian fixer, Konstantin Kilimnik, the possibility of giving Deripaska private briefings, suggesting that such briefings could be a way “to get whole.”
The $10 million payment from Deripaska to Manafort was previously referenced as a loan to Manafort in a 2017 search warrant that was unsealed earlier this year. The document said that Manafort and his wife claimed on a 2010 tax form that they owed $10 million to Deripaska.
Prosecutor Uzo Asonye did not go into much more detail about the $10 million, which he brought up while questioning Manafort tax preparer Cindy Laporta. Asonye was asking Laporta about a summary she prepared for Manafort of wire transfers his businesses received between 2005-2015, where the $10 million from Deripaska was listed as a loan. Laporta said she was told nothing about the loan.
Asonye also asked her if the loan was ever reclassified as income in the financial summaries she put together for Manafort, based on his tax returns through 2015. She said no.
The inquiries came in a line of question where Asonye seemed to be suggesting that Manafort was reporting as loans money that was actually income. Prosecutors have accused Manafort of using these “sham” loans as a way to reduce his taxable income and, thus, lower his taxes.
Manafort has pleaded not guilty to charges of bank fraud and tax fraud, which were brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.