Throughout the election I referred to Paul Manafort as “alleged Russian mob fixer” hoping that Google would eventually make the terms synonymous… sort of like Rick Santorum and, well, you know…
Back in April of last year there was in interesting story about Paul Manafort being sued by a Russian mobster for screwing him out of about $7 million. My first thought was “ballsy.” It isn’t everyone who has the guts to throw the wood to a Russian mobster and walk around totally unconcerned about their health. It wasn’t until August that I became acquainted with the term “Russian Laundromat.” From that post:
As you can see there are major advantages over the traditional system of a shell company booking transactions that never happen. It is less labor intensive, definitely a Russian trait, and it the court system is used to make money from drugs, arms sales, and human trafficking completely clean and explainable. A more detailed explanation can be found at this post.
Now we have another data point.
Manafort, who worked for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions for nearly a decade, resigned from Trump’s campaign in August after his name surfaced in connection with secret payments totaling $12.7 million by Yanukovych’s party. Manafort has denied receiving those, listed in the party’s “black ledger.”
Serhiy Leshchenko, a lawmaker and journalist, released a copy of an invoice on letterhead from Manafort’s consulting company, based in Alexandria, Va., dated Oct. 14, 2009, to a Belize-based company for $750,000 for the sale of 501 computers.
On the same day, Manafort’s name is listed next to a $750,000 entry in the “black ledger,” which was considered a party slush fund. The list was found at the party headquarters in the turmoil after Ukraine’s 2014 revolution. The ledger entries about Manafort were released by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, a government law enforcement agency, last August.
Leshchenko alleges that Manafort falsified an invoice to the Belize company to legitimize the $750,000 payment to himself.
“I have found during this investigation that [Manafort] used offshore jurisdictions and falsified invoices to get money from the corrupt Ukrainian leader,” Leshchenko said during a news conference in downtown Kiev, where he provided a copy of the invoice to journalists.
Via the New York Times:
The invoice bills Neocom Systems Limited for the computers. The invoice listed detailed specifications, for example, one as coming equipped with “Intel Core 2 Duo E6300.” The contract specifies, “Payment under the contract is performed by means of bank transfer to the account of the seller.”
This was not the first time Neocom Systems had surfaced in a corruption probe. In a 2012 money laundering and stock fraud case in Kyrgyzstan, the Central Bank listed it as a shell company used for payments by AsiaUniversalBank, a lender seized by Kyrgyzstan’s Central Bank amid money laundering allegations.
Ukrainian money laundering through AsiaUniversalBank and its affiliated shell companies was extensive and “very well known” in Kyrgyzstan, Edil Baisalov, a former presidential chief of staff, said in a telephone interview. “Our country was a laundry machine.”
— Ryskeldi Satke (@RyskeldiSatke) March 21, 2017
Manafort has flown very close to the sun for a long time and, color me cynical, I can’t see him getting burned over this. He has spread his Russian and Ukrainian cash in all the right places, like with John Podesta’s lobbying group.
What this points to a larger problem that plagued the Trump campaign and shows signs of manifesting itself in his administration. He doesn’t seem to be a great judge of character about whom he allows into his inner circle. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a political campaign that didn’t end in indictments and prison sentences attract as many unsavory characters as did Trump’s. Unless there are people in his inner circle who can rein in his attraction to disreputable people, he’s heading into Ulysses Grant and Warren Harding country.