Manafort and his aide Rick Gates stand accused of money laundering and “conspiracy against the United States.”
On Monday, October 30, Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller released an indictment for former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Manafort’s longtime aide, Richard “Rick” Gates, accusing them of hiding their work for pro-Russian elements in Ukraine and of laundering more than $75 million in payments received as a result of that work.
The charges do not relate to the 2016 election or possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. They concern Manafort’s long previous career as one of Russia’s most vocal paid defenders in Washington:
The indictment include 12 charges against the men: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, seven separate counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, making false and misleading statements under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and making false statements to federal investigators.
The indictment accuses Manafort and Gates of, between 2006 and 2015, acting as “unregistered agents of the Government of Ukraine, the Party of Regions (a Ukrainian political party whose leader Victor Yanukovych was President from 2010 to 2014), Yanukovych, and the Opposition Block (a successort to the Party of Regions that formed in 2014 when Yanukovych fled to Russia).”
The Party of Regions is Ukraine’s major pro-Russian party, arguing for closer ties with the Kremlin; it was ousted in the anti-Russia popular uprising of 2014.
Mueller further accuses Manafort and Gates of laundering money “through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts,” many in Cyprus, to hide their Ukraine payments from US authorities and evade taxes. This amounts to a “conspir[acy] to defraud the United States.”
While it is legal for Americans to advocate on behalf of foreign governments, the charges allege Manafort and Gates misrepresented their activities to the federal government and evaded taxes through extensive money laundering.