The Justice Department went after a familiar target on Friday, filing suit against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The feds are seeking $2.9 million in penalties in the civil suit, alleging that Manafort stashed money overseas in foreign bank accounts in Cyprus, the U.K., and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Manafort allegedly failed to inform the government of the accounts, with the DOJ accusing him of “willful failure to timely report his financial interest in foreign bank accounts.”
The timeframe of Manafort’s alleged wrongdoing goes back to his glory years, before his lifestyle as a political consultant to the world’s damned went down in a flurry of federal prosecutions. The DOJ says in the lawsuit that Manafort failed to report the foreign accounts in 2013 and 2014.
At that time, Manafort was advising Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine. Yanukovych fled the country in February 2014 amid mass protests and after forces under his command fired on demonstrators in Kyiv’s central square.
It was a chain of events that led to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the instigation of the eight-year long war in Ukraine’s Donbas region and, finally, Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Manafort was at the center of prelude to these events, raking in cash from the political party that backed Yanukovych, the Party of Regions.
Federal prosecutors in the Mueller investigation secured two convictions on Manafort, one in D.C. relating to illegal lobbying on Yanukovych’s behalf, and a second, in the Eastern District of Virginia, for financial wrongdoing. President Trump pardoned Manafort on both in December 2020.
In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in southern Florida, the DOJ says that Treasury officials first penalized Manafort for failing to notify the U.S. government of his foreign accounts in May 2020. Manafort was notified of the assessment in July 2020.
Manafort has not paid the assessment, the government asserts.
Jeff Neiman, an attorney for Manafort, told the Washington Post that the GOP consultant had been trying to solve the problem.
“Mr. Manafort was aware the Government was going to file the suit because he has tried for months to resolve this civil matter,” Neiman told the paper. “Nonetheless, the Government insisted on filing this suit simply to embarrass Mr. Manafort.”