A new report released on Sunday indicates that Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was allegedly under investigation by federal authorities years before joining the Trump campaign for a series of suspicious wire transfers.
Manafort allegedly wired $3 million from offshore companies that he “controlled” to American businesses between 2012 and 2013, BuzzFeed reports.
The 13 wire transfers of interest to federal law enforcement officials reportedly appeared on their radar when they started examining if Manafort helped a Ukrainian regime that was close to Russian President Vladimir Putin launder money they gained through corruption. The Ukrainian president at the time, Viktor Yanukovych, is widely thought to be corrupt and was ousted in 2014 and lives in exile in Russia — he’s “accused of treason by Ukrainian authorities; the country’s general prosecutor said Yanukovych’s embezzlement of state funds was so egregious it resembled a ‘mafia structure.’”
The transfers were first flagged by U.S. financial institutions as far back as 2012 and involved five offshore companies associated with Manafort: Global Endeavour Inc., Lucicle Consultants Ltd., and three other companies not named in BuzzFeed’s report. The countries where the wire transfers originated — most notably Cyprus, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines — are notorious for money laundering activity. A lot of the money ended up in the U.S. at a variety of different types of businesses, ranging from construction contractors to car dealerships:
Wire transfers flagged as suspicious show that during the waning months of Yanukovych’s presidency, Global Endeavour sent more than $750,000 out of Ukraine. None of these transactions have been previously reported.
In November and December of 2013, for example, the company transferred almost $53,000 to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Kiev-based political operator. It’s not known what the money was for.
In September 2013, Global Endeavour transferred $500,000 that would ultimately end up back in Manafort’s control. First it went to a hedge fund in Florida, Aegis Holdings LLC, that is controlled by Marc Baldinger, a broker who in 2014 was suspended for 18 months for engaging in deals his financial institution didn’t know about.
The day after Aegis Holdings received the $500,000, it transferred the same amount to a securities clearinghouse, which ultimately sent the funds to Lilred LLC in Morristown, New Jersey.
Also in late 2013, Global Endeavour sent out $200,000 to a remodeling company in Long Island, SP&C Home Improvement. Stephen Jacobsen, a representative, told bank officials the funds were an advance on a remodeling project.
BuzzFeed’s report comes on the heels of a report by CNN on Friday night revealing that a federal grand jury approved the first charges filed by special counsel Robert Mueller into his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials. The report said that arrests could be forthcoming as soon as Monday morning.
It is worth noting that BuzzFeed also broke the story about the Trump dossier — which former British spy Christopher Steel’s attorneys claimed was never supposed to be made public. CNN instantly spread the unverified allegations in the dossier after BuzzFeed published the report.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson reported last week that Manafort is not the only individual in Mueller’s crosshairs as he is also looking heavily into the Podesta Group — run by Anthony Podesta and John Podesta, who was Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman.