Ex-Trump aide 'got secret payment from ousted Ukraine president'

Mr Manafort helped Mr Trump secure the Republican nomination.
Mr Manafort helped Mr Trump secure the Republican nomination.

WASHINGTON • New corruption allegations lodged in Ukraine against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort have thrust him back into the forefront of ongoing scrutiny over whether the Trump team coordinated with the Russian government to influence the US election.

A Ukrainian MP alleged on Tuesday that the party of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych paid Mr Manafort US$750,000 (S$1.05 million) via an offshore shell company.

Mr Sergiy Leshchenko told reporters in Kiev that Mr Yanukovych's party recorded the secret payment to Mr Manafort in 2009 for "political consulting".

Mr Manafort, who helped Mr Trump secure the Republican nomination, previously acted as a public relations adviser to Mr Yanukovych - now living in self-imposed exile in Russia - and his Regions Party between 2007 and 2012.

He resigned as Mr Trump's campaign chairman last August, after the New York Times reported that his name was in a "black ledger" showing he was paid US$12.7 million in secret cash payments from Mr Yanukovych's party.

Mr Leshchenko claimed the 2009 payment to Mr Manafort was backed by a "fake invoice and a fake contract" according to which the American supplied computers to a Belize offshore company.

"Of course these were illegal payments," Mr Leshchenko said.

The money was paid from an account opened by the Belize offshore company in the Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan, Mr Leshchenko said.

"This contract was drawn up just to create a legal basis for Manafort to receive this money in his account in the US."

He added that the contract was "signed by Paul Manafort".

A spokesman for Mr Manafort called the claims "baseless" and said some of the documents released on Tuesday appeared to be fabricated because the letterhead and signatures did not match those of Mr Manafort.

WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-Trump aide 'got secret payment from ousted Ukraine president''. Print Edition | Subscribe