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Manafort Faces Renewed Scrutiny over $40M in ‘Suspicious Transactions’

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort is facing renewed scrutiny after special counsel Robert Mueller resurrected a shelved federal investigation that previously identified $40 million in “suspicious transactions” to and from Manafort’s companies, according to BuzzFeed News. 

The discovery indicates the scope of Manafort’s alleged crimes are much broader than initially when he was indicted in October 2017 for an alleged $18 million money laundering scheme involving pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych.

The FBI uncovered the transactions primarily in 2014 and 2015 as part of an investigation to tackle international kleptocracy, and agents interviewed Manafort at his attorney’s office in Washington D.C. At the time, Manafort denied wrongdoing and said he knew nothing of Yanukovych’s government reportedly stealing money, according to internal FBI emails. Although Manafort pledged to disclose documents to the bureau, he never did.

The probe fizzled, according to two former federal law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation, because FBI leaders determined Manafort’s crimes weren’t significant enough to warrant charges.

“We had him in 2014,” one of the former officials said. “In hindsight, we could have nailed him then.”

The officials said a lack of resources made it too difficult to build a complex case against the former Ukrainian president, so the investigation petered out.

In the meantime, banks continued to alert federal officials of suspicious transactions involving Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to a slew of charges related to his work with eastern European countries. The charges include money laundering, conspiracy against the U.S. and tax fraud. 

Mueller reopened the investigation in September and used some of the findings to help indict Manafort. Mueller is considering leveling new charges against Manafort as investigators comb through the suspicious transactions.

His business partner, Rick Gates, plans to plead guilty to fraud charges in exchange for a reduced sentence and his testimony against Manafort.


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