We’ve done several post on the previous and current antics of the alleged Russian mob fixer, Paul Manafort, that Donald Trump brought on to be his “convention manager” and who has since assumed effective control of the entire campaign. Suffice it to say, Manafort’s history indicates that he is, as my old man would say, as crooked as a barrel of fishhooks.
Now Manafort’s role as an alleged Russian mob fixer is coming back to haunt him:
A court in the Cayman Islands has sought to question Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s chief campaign aide, to determine what happened to $26.2 million invested by a billionaire Russian oligarch in a Cayman Islands partnership with the political consultant, according to documents obtained by Yahoo News.
Court-appointed liquidators from the Cayman Islands last summer initiated a legal action in federal court in Alexandria, Va., seeking to question Manafort and two business partners under oath about a business deal between them and firms controlled by Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate who for years was barred from entering the United States over allegations of ties to organized crime.
“These guys are chasing their money,” said Rick Davis, one of the partners subpoenaed in the case, and the manager of John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “They [Deripaska’s firms] invested in something and it just went away. They are actually trying to track down where the company went and where the [money] went.”
Gee. $26.2 million just got misplaced somehow.
Holy crap. There is so much awesome in this story I’m going to violate Fair Use guidelines if I’m not careful. I mean this guy has actually managed to get the Cayman Islands, a nation devoted to scams and money laundering, so upset at the scope of his fraud that it is trying to haul him into court. This is like managing to get arrested for sodomy in San Francisco.
Manafort did not respond to requests for comment from Yahoo News and it is not clear from the court records in Alexandria as well as separate ones obtained by Yahoo News from the Cayman Islands whether the authorities there have even been able to serve him with papers.
“It appears that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates have simply disappeared,” Deripaska’s lawyers wrote in a petition to the Cayman Islands court filed in Dec. 4, 2014.
Whatever the explanation, the court documents shed new light on a trail of complicated offshore business dealings (many of them through firms registered in the Cayman Islands, Cyprus and elsewhere) that Manafort engaged in with wealthy Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs — relationships he appears to have forged while serving as chief political consultant to former Ukrainian president Victor Yanakovych, an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who fled Kiev in Feb. 2014 and now lives in Moscow.
And this is not the only Russian mobster pursuing Manafort like a vengeful harpy.
A separate lawsuit filed in New York three years ago details multiple business deals that Manafort had with another pro-Putin oligarch, Dmitri Firtash, including plans to purchase New York’s Drake hotel and develop a high-end resort on the Bahamian island of Bimini.
The New York lawsuit, filed on behalf of former Ukranian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Yanakovych’s s rival, alleged that Manafort’s business deals were part of a “racketeering” scheme to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through a “labyrinth” of Firtash-controlled companies in Panama, Cyprus and Europe for the benefit of Yanakovych.
The lawsuit was tossed out by a federal judge in New York last fall on the grounds that it mainly involved overseas activity that was not within the jurisdiction of the court. But as part of the case, the lawyer for Tymoshenko, Kenneth F. McCallion, put into the court record documents detailing Manafort’s business arrangements with Firtash, including memos and emails about meetings between them in Kiev and a copy of an agreement to create a limited partnership with Firtash registered in the Cayman Islands that was signed by Manafort in April, 2009.
(Firtash two years ago was indicted by a federal grand jury in Chicago for alleged conspiracy to bribe Indian government officials for a titanium contract. He was arrested in Vienna, but the Austrian government rebuffed a Justice Department request for his extradition last year. The oligarch remains a federal fugitive with an outstanding Interpol warrant, afraid to risk arrest by leaving Austria, according to a source close to him.)
This scam was awesome in scope and ambition but rather dimwitted in terms of threat analysis:
The court filings in Alexandria stem from an agreement in March, 2007 to create a Cayman Islands partnership, Pericles Emerging Market Investors L.P, between a firm owned by Manafort and Gates and Surf Horizon Ltd., described as a company incorporated that summer in Cyprus to serve as a special purpose vehicle for investments by one of Deripaska’s companies in Moscow. (Deripaska is not identified by name in the court filings, but sources directly familiar with the case told Yahoo News he was the principal figure with whom Manafort had partnered.)
The partnership’s purpose was to “generate significant long term capital appreciation” through private equity investments in Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere. As part of the deal, Deripaska’s firms paid $7.35 million in management fees to Manafort and Gates.
But the deal went south after Pericles paid $18.9 million in 2008 to holdings in Cyprus controlled by Manafort and Gates for the purchase of Black Sea Cable, a Ukrainian holding company for telecommunications and Internet interests in that country. Citing the worldwide financial crisis that year, Deripaska’s firms later suspended further investments and the two parties agreed to wind down their partnership, according to the filing by Deripaska’s lawyers.
Lawyers for the Russian oligarch then started seeking information–and audits–about what happened to the investment and the management fees Deripaska’s firms had paid. In court papers, they allege they discovered that the Ukranian investment had been structured differently then they had been led to believe – with different partners. When they sought obtain copies of the agreement and sales contracts–as well as promised audit reports on their investment–Manafort and Gates did not respond to their requests. Deripaska’s lawyers then sought and obtained the appointment of court appointed liquidators to investigate what happened to his money.
Many moons ago I commanded an infantry company that included a platoon of Jeep-mounted TOW missile launchers. We were deployed to a training area near California’s Big Sur for gunner qualification. One of the gunnery tables included engaging targets at night under artillery illumination. We were beating time, waiting for dark, and I was walking my gun line. I heard a commotion on one of my gun trucks and discovered a half dozen or so of my Rambos had caught a baby wild boar. Not a baby feral hog. A baby European wild boar. They were twisting its tail and it was squealing.
Me: What the f***ing f*** are you morons doing?
Morons: We’re twisting its tail so its mother will hear and come.
Me: [stunned silence] Have you f***ing morons thought through what is going to happen when its mother arrives?
Me: [rapid though stately exit, stage right]
It seems to me that this Manafort and his pals succeeded in catching the baby boar and twisting its tail hard enough to make it scream. They apparently have not contemplated what is going to happen when mama hears the cries and comes to its aid. Perhaps we should be looking at Manafort’s horning into the Trump campaign, fighting to gain control of it, and his addiction for appearing on Sunday news shows as more of a survival strategy than him grasping for political power. Maybe he sees his current high profile as a very cheap life insurance policy.