Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort just got exposed as being in Russian debt up to his eyeballs in March 2016 when he began working for the Republican nominee. Manafort is expected to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, along with Donald Trump Jr., who brought the veteran GOP operative – who is now a registered foreign agent – into his illicit meeting with Russian government officials last summer.
Records from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus – a major Russian money laundering center – confirm that Manafort’s shell companies owed $17 million dollars in debts, which he has confirmed. The New York Times reports:
Financial records filed last year in the secretive tax haven of Cyprus, where Paul J. Manafort kept bank accounts during his years working in Ukraine and investing with a Russian oligarch, indicate that he had been in debt to pro-Russia interests by as much as $17 million before he joined Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016.
The money appears to have been owed by shell companies connected to Mr. Manafort’s business activities in Ukraine when he worked as a consultant to the pro-Russia Party of Regions. The Cyprus documents obtained by The New York Times include audited financial statements for the companies, which were part of a complex web of more than a dozen entities that transferred millions of dollars among them in the form of loans, payments and fees.
Paul Manafort’s son-in-law scammed actor Dustin Hoffman for millions of dollars in a minor Ponzi scheme, which led to an FBI investigation into both men that is ongoing. Federal authorities subpoenaed records related to a $3.5 million dollar loan where Manafort skipped paying over $36,000 in taxes owed, which has led New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to open another investigation.
Manafort borrowed millions of dollars from another Trump campaign advisor’s bank just to avoid foreclosure.
Foreclosure bailouts are very high-risk risk loans, which normal banks generally avoid for anyone, but Federal Savings Bank stepped in and lent Paul Manafort a whopping $16 million dollars on properties far from its Chicago headquarters on both coasts. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Mr. Manafort was at risk of losing both his Brooklyn, N.Y., townhouse and his family’s investments in California properties being developed by his son-in-law, the records show. But in November and January, Mr. Manafort and his wife received as much as $16 million in loans from the Federal Savings Bank, a small bank in Chicago run by Steve Calk. The loans equaled almost 24% of the bank’s reported $67 million of equity capital.
Mr. Calk was a member of Mr. Trump’s Economic Advisory panel who overlapped with Mr. Manafort on the Trump campaign. Around the time his bank made the Manafort loans, Mr. Calk was vying to become Mr. Trump’s Army Secretary, according to three people briefed on the Army interactions. A veteran whose bank caters to former members of the military, Mr. Calk didn’t get the job, and declined to comment on it.
Today’s news from The Times makes it highly likely that Manafort paid his Russian issued debts on American real estate with money from his fellow Trump advisor and office seeker Steve Calk. It’s a sticky legal quandary and could result in any number of charges for improper mixing of business and politics.
When Trump’s campaign hired Paul Manafort, we explained last July why it made him the most corrupt candidate in American history.
Manafort’s tangled international web of shady real estate dealings, his deals to take Russian oligarch money to help Putin and his blatant lies about Russian dealings since then have turned him into a magnet felony investigations. Connecticut’s bar is even mulling a disbarment complaint against him.
Now, prosecutors have their hands and travel schedules full to investigating the Trump Tower resident and sometimes informal Presidential advisor who gleefully calls himself the Count of Monte Cristo.
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.