Newly unsealed court documents: Manafort and Gates received 'millions of dollars' from 'Russian oligarchs'

  • A newly unsealed docket in the criminal case against Paul Manafort and his longtime business associate Rick Gates alleged that both men had received “millions of dollars” from Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs.
  • The money would allow them “to live comfortably abroad” and therefore make them a flight risk, according to the documents.
  • Gates was released on his own personal recognizance, or a promise that he will return to court, but Manafort was released into a “high intensity supervision program.”
  • Both men are subjects of Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging Russia election-meddling investigation.

A newly unsealed docket in the criminal case against Paul Manafort and his longtime business associate Rick Gates alleged that both men had received “millions of dollars” from Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs that would allow them “to live comfortably abroad” and therefore make them a flight risk.

The government wrote in the documents unsealed on Tuesday, which include arrest warrants and the terms of their release, that Manafort and Gates “have connections to Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, who have provided” them with “millions of dollars.”

“Foreign connections of this kind indicate that the defendants would have access to funds and an ability ‘to live comfortably’ abroad…a consideration that strongly suggests risk of flight,” the filings said.

Whereas Gates was released on his own personal recognizance, or a promise that he will return to court, Manafort was released into a “high intensity supervision program.”

Both men were placed on house arrest after the government successfully argued that they “pose a risk of flight based on the serious nature of the charges, their history of deceptive and misleading conduct, the potentially significant sentences the defendants face, the strong evidence of guilt, their significant financial resources, and their foreign connections.”

Manafort and Gates, who both pleaded not guilty on Monday, were required to turn over their passports to the FBI and notify the bureau of their movements. According to the filing, Manafort currently has three passports with different numbers — and has “submitted ten US passport applications on ten different occasions” over the past decade.

“Manafort and Gates are frequent international travellers, consistent with the nature of their work for foreign entities,” the filing read. “Within the last year, Manafort has travelled to Dubai, Cancun, Panama City, Havana, Shanghai, Madrid, Tokyo, and Grand Cayman Island…The investigation has also revealed that Gates and Manafort travelled to Cyprus, the place where many of their foreign accounts are based.”

Additionally, Manafort allegedly registered a phone number and email address using an alias, according to the government. He travelled with that phone to “Mexico in June 2017; to China on May 23, 2017; and to Ecuador on May 9, 2017.”

The New York Times reported in July, citing financial documents filed in Cyprus, that Manafort was in debt to pro-Russian interests by as much as $US17 million by the time he joined President Donald Trump’s campaign team in March 2016.

Manafort also has significant business ties to the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who signed a $US10 million annual contract with Manafort in 2006, according to the Associated Press, for a lobbying project in the US that Manafort said would “greatly benefit the Putin Government.”

That relationship turned sour in 2014, though, when Deripaska’s representatives filed legal complaints in the Cayman Islands alleging that Manafort all but disappeared with $US19 million Deripaska had given him to invest in a Ukrainian TV company called Black Sea Cable.

In early 2016, Deripaska’s representatives “openly accused Manafort of fraud and pledged to recover the money from him,” according to The Associated Press. “After Trump earned the nomination [in May], Deripaska’s representatives said they would no longer discuss the case.”

In a July 2016 email, Manafort asked his longtime employee Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian dual citizen, to offer Deripaska “private briefings” about the campaign.

Kilimnik, too, may appear in the newly unsealed docket. According to the government, “Manafort, Gates, and a Russian national — who is a longstanding employee of Davis Manafort Partners, Inc. and DMP International LLC (collectively DMI) — served as the beneficial owners and signatories” on the many offshore accounts they had opened.

“More than $US75 million flowed through these overseas accounts,” the filings said, “and the government has substantial documentary evidence to support that allegation.”

Manafort also represented the value of his assets on loan applications “in divergent amounts, ” according to the court filings. The values varied wildly in 2016, when he was serving as Trump’s campaign chairman — from $US48 million in February 2016 to $US136 million in May 2016 to $US25 million in November 2016 — suggesting “considerable resources, the full extent of which is unclear,” the government wrote.

Gates, meanwhile, “frequently changed banks and opened and closed bank accounts,” prosecutors said. He allegedly opened 55 accounts with 13 different banks, some of which were based in England and Cyprus.

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