New Documents Say Trump Aide Hid Payments From Pro-Moscow Ukraine Party

KIEV, Ukraine (The Washington Post) —
Paul Manafort walks around the convention floor before the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

A Ukrainian lawmaker on Tuesday released new financial documents allegedly showing that a former campaign manager of President Trump laundered payments from the party of a disgraced ex-leader of Ukraine using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan.

The new documents may revive questions about the ties between the Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and the party of the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who has been in hiding in Russia since being overthrown by pro-Western protesters in 2014. He is wanted in Ukraine on corruption charges.

Manafort, who worked for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions for close to a decade, resigned as President Trump’s campaign manager in August after his name surfaced next to payments totaling $12.7 million in a registry of secret payments from the Party of Regions called the “black ledger.” Manafort has denied receiving those payments.

The documents were released just hours after the House Intelligence Committee questioned FBI Director James Comey about possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow, which also touched on Manafort’s work for Yanukovych’s party in Ukraine.

Comey declined to say whether or not the FBI was coordinating with Ukraine on an investigation into the alleged payments to Manafort.

Serhiy Leshchenko, a lawmaker and journalist, released a copy of an invoice on a letterhead from Manafort’s Alexandria, Va.-based consulting company from 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 so-called “black ledger” of payments from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. The ledger, viewed as a party slush fund, 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-based company in order 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 press-conference in downtown Kiev, where he provided a copy of the invoice to journalists.

He said that he received the invoices and other documents in January from the new tenants of Manafort’s former offices in downtown Kiev. The documents were left behind in a safe, he said, adding that Manafort’s signature and his company seal were proof that the documents were real.

He was not aware of any formal Ukrainian investigation into the documents, he said. He declined to comment on whether he had discussed the documents with U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Manafort has previously accused Leshchenko of blackmailing him by threatening to release harmful information about his financial relationship with Yanukovych. That correspondence between Leshchenko and Manafort’s daughter was released in February as the result of a purported cyberhack. Leshchenko has called the exchange a forgery.

Manafort was involved in crafting the political strategy that brought Yanukovych to power after a crushing defeat in the 2004 elections. Yanukovych’s party has been accused of ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, particularly through wealthy oligarchs from the country’s east with interests in both Russia and Ukraine.

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