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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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Mueller's Russia probe:Manafort, Gates, Papadopoulos charged

U.S. Presidential election of 2016

Share on Facebook October 30, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 435

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - On Monday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed charges against three former Trump campaign officials, marking the first criminal allegations emerging from the five-month long probe into the possible Russian influence in the U.S. Presidential election of 2016.

Mueller’s team charged former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his longtime business partner Rick Gates and former Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos.

Earlier this month, reports stated that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making a false statement to FBI investigators who asked about his contacts with a foreigner connected to Russian officials.

Mueller revealed Papadopoulos’s plea shortly after the indictment was unsealed. 

According to a court filing, he has been cooperating with investigators for months.

According to the indictment, the foreign national was a London-based professor and Papadopoulos claimed the professor introduced him to Putin’s niece and the Russian ambassador in London.

Meanwhile, Manafort and Gates were charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and other charges stemming from probes into possible Russian influence in U.S. political affairs.

According to allegations leveled by the special counsel, for nearly a decade Manafort and Gates laundered money through scores of U.S. and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts.

They are alleged to have given false statements to the Justice Department and others when asked about their work on behalf of a foreign entity.

The special counsel alleged that more than $75 million flowed through offshore accounts. 

Mueller said that Manafort laundered more than $18 million, using his wealth acquired overseas to “enjoy a lavish lifestyle” in the United States, purchasing multi-million dollar properties and paying for home renovation.

The indictment claims that Manafort and Gates arranged to hire two Washington-based lobbying firms to work on behalf of their Ukrainian clients, arranging meetings with U.S. officials and boosting their public image in the United States.

However, Prosecutors have said that Manafort and Gates arranged for a Brussels-based nonprofit to nominally hire the companies to hide the fact that their work was for Ukrainian government officials and would otherwise require registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Prosecutors have alleged that Manafort was communicating directly with then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych about the effort, promising in 2012 to provide him weekly updates about the effort.

Prosecutors added that to obscure Ukrainian involvement in the lobbying effort, payments to the Washington firms were routed through obscure offshore companies. 

They said that when the Department of Justice approached Manafort and Gates in 2016 and 2017 about whether they should have registered as foreign agents for the work, they responded with false and misleading letters.

According to the indictment, the duo indicated that they had not directed the lobbying effort and asserted they did not hold records reflecting their work, even though later searches showed they did.

Both, Manafort and Gates have also been accused of willfully and intentionally trying to hide monies kept in foreign bank accounts, in specific, Manafort from 2011 to 2014 and Gates from 2012 to 2014. 

Manafort has been accused of filing fraudulent tax returns — stating on tax forms he filed from 2008 to 2014 that he controlled no foreign bank accounts.

Mueller alleged that the men made tens of millions of dollars for themselves.

The indictment said that from 2008 to 2014, Manafort arranged to wire $12 million from offshore accounts to pay for personal expenses – including $5 million to a home renovation contractor in the Hamptons, more than $1.3 million to a home entertainment and lighting vendor based in Florida, $934,000 to an antique rug dealer in Alexandria, and $849,000 to a men’s clothier in New York.

Papadopoulos’s case is related to his time working on the campaign and involved alleged efforts to set up a meeting with Russian officials.

Reports noted that Manafort and Gates will make their first court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson at 1:30 p.m. 

The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, 63, a 2011 Barack Obama appointee.

The charges against Manafort and Gates did not reference the Trump campaign, and the indictment focused on their work advising a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine. 

President Trump took to Twitter on Monday and said, “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????”

He said in a follow-up tweet, “….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”

 

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