Paul Manafort may have had deeper ties to Russian wealth than previously thought

At least $US60 million in alleged loans have been exchanged between companies linked to the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, suggesting that Manafort may have had deeper ties to Russian wealth than previously thought.

According to an NBC News report published Friday evening, a loan of $US26 million was transferred from a company owned by Deripaska to the company, Yiakora Ventures, Ltd., which is linked to Manafort’s business interests in Cyprus.

That $US26 million loan was classified as “repayable on demand,” though it was not immediately clear whether it had actually been repaid.

An additional $US7 million was delivered to another Manafort-linked outfit, LOAV Advisers, The New York Times previously reported. And a third bundle of cash, about $US27 million worth of alleged loans, was sent to a third Manafort-linked company registered in Delaware, according to NBC News’ report, which said that the company, Jesand LLC, was used to buy a high-priced New York condo in 2007. The property was later used as collateral for a separate $US1 million loan.

Buying property through limited-liability companies is a common practice among high net-worth individuals, but white-collar crime experts say it can be a red-flag in cases where money laundering is suspected. US investigators have not formally charged Manafort with a crime, and he has maintained his innocence amid the Russia probe.

The reporting paints a clearer picture of Manafort’s vast portfolio of Russia-linked financial transactions, which is one of the many avenues US investigators are exploring in their probe of potential ties or improper associations between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The matter is part of a broader inquiry into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election.

Manafort has been a central focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation which has grown in its intensity in recent months. The FBI conducted a early morning raid on one of Manafort’s properties in the Washington D.C. area in July and Mueller reportedly warned Manafort that he would be indicted.

The news follows revelations earlier this month that Manafort, while he was on Trump’s campaign last year, had allegedly sought to use his position to exert influence in Russia-linked circles that included Deripaska, and, at some point offered “private briefings” about the campaign to Deripaska, who is a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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