- A newly unsealed court filing shows Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska loaned Paul Manafort $US10 million.
- Manafort has a long and complicated financial history with Deripaska, who is closely tied to the Kremlin.
- Manafort was the chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign, and he offered to give Deripaska “private briefings” about the campaign in 2016 in what may have been an effort to resolve his debt.
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A newly unsealed court filing shows that Paul Manafort received a hefty loan from Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin.
Manafort is the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s election interference, has charged Manafort in two indictments with dozens of counts related to tax and bank fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, false statements, and failure to register as a foreign agent.
Manafort recently lost motions seeking to dismiss each of the two cases against him – one in Virginia and one in Washington, DC. He is currently incarcerated in Northern Neck Regional Jail in Virginia.
The document unsealed on Wednesday is a July 2017 application for a warrant to search Manafort’s home in Virginia, Reuters reported. In an affidavit attached to the application, an FBI agent said that while reviewing tax returns for a company Manafort and his wife own, he discovered that Deripaska loaned Manafort $US10 million. It’s unclear when the loan was made.
Deripaska is a longtime associate of Manafort’s, and the two men have a complicated financial history.
The affidavit disclosed that Deripaska financially supported Manafort’s consulting work in Ukraine when it began in 2005 and in 2006.
Deripaska and Manafort also worked together on a lobbying project in the US in 2006, and Deripaska signed a $US10 million annual contract with Manafort for the deal, which Manafort said would “greatly benefit the Putin Government.”
When Manafort joined the Trump campaign ten years later, he owed Deripaska close to $US20 million, according to legal complaints Deripaska’s lawyers filed in the Cayman Islands and New York.
Manafort’s debt to Deripaska attracted scrutiny last year, after The Atlantic published several emails appearing to show Manafort using his elevated role in the Trump campaign to resolve his conflict with Deripaska.
Manafort reportedly wrote an email to his associate, the former Russian-Ukrainian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik, offering to give Deripaska “private briefings” about the campaign. Kilimnik was indicted by Mueller this month.
“I assume you have shown our friends my media coverage, right?” Manafort reportedly wrote to Kilimnik.
“Absolutely,” replied Kilimnik. “Every article.”
“How do we use to get whole,” Manafort responded. “Has OVD operation seen?”
Former intelligence officials told Business Insider that Manafort was likely offering the briefings in an effort to repay his debt to Deripaska. Investigators have concluded that “OVD” was a reference to Deripaska’s full name: Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska.
Kilimnik reportedly told Manafort in a later email that he had been “sending everything to Victor, who has been forwarding the coverage directly to OVD.” Victor was a senior aide to Deripaska, according to The Atlantic.
“Frankly, the coverage has been much better than Trump’s,” Kilimnik wrote. “In any case it will hugely enhance your reputation no matter what happens.”
On July 7, 2016, Manafort wrote to Kilimnik, “If he needs private briefings, we can accommodate.”
Manafort and Kilimnik met at least twice during the campaign – once in May 2016 and once in August.
Three days before the August meeting, Kilimnik wrote in an email to Manafort that he had “met today with the guy who gave you your biggest black caviar jar several years ago,” a reference to Deripaska’s previous loans to Manafort. “We spent about 5 hours talking about his story, and I have several important messages from him to you.”
Manafort has said he and Kilimnik discussed the Trump campaign and the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee during the August 2, 2016 meeting. Kilimnik said they did not discuss the campaign, but talked about “current news” and “unpaid bills.”
Meanwhile, hours after their meeting, a private jet linked to Deripaska landed in Newark, New Jersey, close to where Manafort and Kilimnik met. It was in the US for less than 24 hours, and the trip has now caught the eye of congressional Trump-Russia investigators.
Deripaska’s representatives confirmed to Vice News that his jet flew to New Jersey that month, but said Deripaska was not on board, that the trip had nothing to do with Manafort’s offer, and that Deripaska never received the offer.
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