Last summer, during a campaign shakeup, Donald Trump replaced campaign chairman Paul Manafort amid allegations that he or his firm had received cash payouts from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. The so-called “Black Ledger” was a secret, handwritten document that listed Manafort, or his firm’s name, over 20 times for over $12 million. At the time, Manafort denied any involvement, and even Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau said merely appearing in the document did not mean that he had received any money. However, with the more-recent revelation of Manafort’s decade-long pro-Russia agenda and investigations into his off-shore bank accounts, it seemed only a matter of time before the situation received more clarity.
The Associated Press is now confirming that $1.2 million of the money listed by Manafort’s name went to his consulting firm in 2007 and 2009:
The two payments came years before Manafort became involved in Trump’s campaign, but for the first time bolster the credibility of the ledger. They also put the ledger in a new light, as federal prosecutors in the U.S. have been investigating Manafort’s work in Eastern Europe as part of a larger anti-corruption probe.
Separately, Manafort is also under scrutiny as part of congressional and FBI investigations into possible contacts between Trump associates and Russia’s government under President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. The payments detailed in the ledger and confirmed by the documents obtained by the AP are unrelated to the 2016 presidential campaign and came years before Manafort worked as Trump’s unpaid campaign chairman.
In a statement to the AP, Manafort did not deny receiving money but said that he had agreed to let his clients pay through their preferred methods, in this case wire transfers, and “any wire transactions received by my company are legitimate payments for political consulting work that was provided. I invoiced my clients and they paid via wire transfer, which I received through a U.S. bank.” However, both payments originated from companies that were once registered in Belize, leading some to question the expanse of Manafort’s global banking activities.
While Manafort is not under investigation in Ukraine, their anti-corruption bureau has demanded the money be returned to the country. Unfortunately for Manafort, he is under investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department which had previously looked into his banking history in Cyprus, a former hotbed of money laundering.
(Via The AP)