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Tag: paul manafort

Russia Probe: Attorney Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI about Trump Campaign Aide

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A prominent, Russian-connected attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to misleading the FBI about his work with President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, marking the third conviction so far in the special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Alex Van der Zwaan is accused of lying to federal investigators about communications he had with Rick Gates, a longtime business partner of Manafort and a former Trump campaign aide.

Prosecutors say Van der Zwaan made false statements about his work for a law firm accused of whitewashing abuses by the pro-Russian, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is accused of an $18 million money laundering scheme involving Manafort.

The scheme is part of the criminal case against Manafort and Gates, who were both indicted in October on 12 counts involving money laundering, conspiracy against the U.S. and tax fraud. They pleaded not guilty.

Van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan, worked in London for the prominent New York law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

After pleading guilty, he admitted to lying to investigators about past communications with Gates and someone identified as “Personal A.”

The case centered around Van der Zwaan’s work for Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice, which hired him to put together a report about the trial of Tymoshenko.

BuzzFeed News reported Monday that Tymoshenko was the focus of an FBI investigation as part of a failed operation to tackle international kleptocracy in 2014 and 2015. During the probe, investigators identified $40 million in “suspicious transactions” to and from Manafort’s companies. 

But the under-resourced task force dropped the investigation and never charged Manafort or Tymoshenko, according to current and former law enforcement officials who worked on the case.

Gates is expected to plead guilty as early as this week to money laundering as part of a deal with prosecutors to testify against Manafort, who continues to maintain his innocence.

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.

Former Trump Aide Gates to Testify Against Manafort in Forthcoming Plea Deal

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates will plead guilty to charges related to fraud in exchange for testifying against his longtime business partner, Paul Manafort, in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.

Gates and Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign manager, were indicted in October on 12 counts involving money laundering, conspiracy against the U.S. and tax fraud. They pleaded not guilty.

Gates is expected to change his plea to guilty and will likely serve 18 months in prison in exchange for his cooperation, the Los Angeles Times reports

The special counsel probe so far has turned two defendants – former national security adviser Michael Flynn and foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos – into cooperating witnesses.

The charges against Gates and Manafort stem from work they did with Ukrainian politicians who are allies with Russia. They are accused of laundering tens of millions of dollars from the work through U.S. and foreign companies and bank accounts.

Manafort, who is under house arrest and faces up to 15 years in prison, has pledged to fight the charges and even sued Mueller and the Justice Department, claiming the special counsel probe overreached its authority.

It’s not yet clear what information Gates is offering to prosecutors.

Former Trump Aide Finalizing Plea Deal with Special Counsel Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates is nearing plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, CNN reports

Gates and his longtime business partner Paul Manafort were indicted in October on 12 counts involving money laundering, conspiracy against the U.S. and tax fraud. They pleaded not guilty.

Gates has been negotiating a plead deal for nearly a month with the special counsel team investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

If Gates enters a plea deal, he would become the third known former Trump aide to cooperate in the rapidly evolving investigation. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulo pleaded guilty late last year to making false statements to federal investigators in exchange for cooperating with the prosecutors.

Mueller’s team is planning to file new tax-related charges against Gates and Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chairman.

The charges stem from work Manafort and Gates did with Ukrainian politicians who are allies with Russia. They are accused of laundering tens of millions of dollars from the work through U.S. and foreign companies and bank accounts.

Manafort, who is under house arrest and faces up to 15 years in prison, has pledged to fight the charges and even sued Mueller and the Justice Department, claiming the special counsel probe overreached its authority.

It’s not yet clear what information Gates is offering to prosecutors.

Manafort Sues DOJ, Claims Special Counsel Probe Exceeded Authority

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, filed suit against the Justice Department, arguing the special counsel investigation has exceeded its authority by indicated him on charges unrelated to the presidential campaign. 

Manafort, who also sued Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said his indictment on conspiracy and money laundering charges are unrelated to whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the presidential election.

Therefore, Manafort alleges in the suit. Mueller does not authorize the special counsel “carte blanche to investigate and pursue criminal charges in connection with anything he stumbles across while investigating, no matter how remote.” 

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May to investigate allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Manafort and his former campaign aide Rick Gates were charged in October and originally placed on house arrest.

Rosenstein’s lawsuit seeks to stop Mueller from investigating issues that are unrelated to Russian and alleged collusion.

“Mr. Mueller’s investigation of Mr. Manafort has extended far beyond links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” the lawsuit states. “The investigation has focused on Mr. Manafort’s offshore business dealings that date back to as early as 2005—about a decade before the Trump presidential campaign launched—and have been known to the United States government for many years.”

The Justice Department dismissed the lawsuit as “frivolous.”

“But the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants,” the Justice statement said, USA Today reports

Trump’s Ex-Campaign Manager Manafort May Face Another Indictment

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates may face another indictment in the Trump-Russia probe headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The Daily Beast reports that Washington D.C. lawyers anticipate Mueller will file a superseding indictment of Manafort and Gates to replace the current indictment. 

“I would expect a superseding indictment to come down relatively soon,” said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law school professor.

“There was much in the narrative of the indictment that referenced crimes not charged,” he added. “Prosecutors will often issue a superseding indictment as the grand jury continues its work. There’s also a tactical reason for this, that superseding indictments tend to grind defendants a bit more over time.”

Both men pleaded not guilty to an Oct. 30 indictment that alleges conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, being an unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading statements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and false statements.

Manafort’s foreign financial transactions may draw potential new tax charges, the indictment hinted.

Other Stories of Interest

Trump, Attorneys Are Optimistic Mueller Will Exonerate President

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just days before meeting with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office later this week, Trump’s attorneys are reportedly optimistic that the president is on the verge of being exonerated.

CNN reports that Trump has been boasting to friends and advisers that he expects to soon be cleared of any wrongdoing, according to people close to the president.

But legal analysts and media reports indicate the special counsel investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia is escalating.

The ever-evolving probe has so far netted charges against four of Trump’s close allies: former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign adviser and Manafort associate Rick Gates, early foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

It’s unclear why the White House is so optimistic.

The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the investigation, reports that the investigation could take another year, pointing out that the team is still cooperating with witnesses and requested documents related to the probe. 

Paul Manafort Reaches $11M Bond Deal with Mueller’s Team

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has reached a deal with prosecutors that would free him from house arrest until his trial on federal money laundering and other charges. 

For $11 million worth of real estate, Manafort could shed his GPS tracking device following four weeks of house arrest that required him to stay inside his Virginia residence, with religious and medical exceptions. He could lose the property if he violates bond, Politico reports

“The Defendant will execute an agreement to forfeit four (4) separate real properties if there is a bail violation with a total estimated net value (i.e., fair market value less encumbrances) of approximately $11.65 million. The OSC has agreed that the properties posted provide the reasonable assurance required under the Bail Reform Act,” Manafort lawyers Kevin Downing and Tom Zehnle wrote.

The deal would allow Manafort to travel throughout New York, Florida and Washington D.C.

But if Manafort flees, his wife would be required to turn over $10 million.