5 key points from the US indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates

President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort (left) and the latter's former business associate Rick Gates were indicted on Oct 30.
President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort (left) and the latter's former business associate Rick Gates were indicted on Oct 30. PHOTOS: BLOOMBERG, NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the latter's former business associate Rick Gates were indicted on Monday (Oct 30).

They were charged with 12 counts related to money laundering, tax evasion and foreign lobbying.

Here are five key points from the indictment:

1. LOBBYING WORK AND OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS

Manafort and Gates worked as unregistered agents providing political consulting and lobbying work in Ukraine between at least 2006 and 2015, according to US special counsel Robert Mueller. They worked in various capacities with Viktor F. Yanukovych, the one-time Ukrainian president and a pro-Russia politician.

The job was lucrative, generating tens of millions of dollars that the men attempted to hide from US tax collectors and the public in a series of foreign companies and bank accounts, the indictment said.

Mueller's team found that more than US$75 million (S$102.3 million) passed through offshore accounts, and Manafort laundered more than US$18 million to pay for real estate, luxury goods and other services in the United States. Gates transferred more than US$3 million from offshore accounts, court documents show.

2. LYING ABOUT WORK IN UKRAINE

Manafort and Gates were legally required to report their work for the Ukrainians, and payment from them to the United States. They did not, the documents show.

After their work was disclosed in news reports in August 2016, when Manafort was still working for the Trump campaign, he and Gates "developed a false and misleading cover story" to distance themselves from Ukraine, according to federal prosecutors.

The reports prompted the Justice Department to ask the men if they had ever worked as agents of a foreign power. They repeatedly said no, lying to federal agents, according to the indictment.

3. NO WORD OF COLLUSION WITH RUSSIA, FOR NOW

Conspicuously absent from the charging documents against Manafort and Gates: Any mention of campaign-related interaction between the two men and Russia, or between the Trump campaign and Russia. US spy agencies have concluded that Russia acted to help Trump's candidacy during the election, and part of Mueller's task is to investigate whether the campaign coordinated with them.

However, in a separate case on Monday (Oct 30), a foreign policy adviser to Trump's campaign, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about a contact with a professor with ties to Kremlin officials. The plea represents the most explicit evidence connecting the Trump campaign to the Russian election efforts.

4. MANAFORT, THE LAVISH SPENDER

Manafort in particular appears not to have been shy about using the money from his work in Ukraine, wiring payments for clothing, cars, real estate and other luxury items directly from the foreign accounts to vendors, prosecutors wrote.

Between 2008 and 2014, Manafort spent US$849,215 at a men's clothing store in New York and between 2008 and 2012, an additional US$520,440 at a clothing store in Beverly Hills. He spent US$934,350 at an antique rugs store in Alexandria, Virginia, where he owns a home, between 2008 and 2010.

In 2012 alone, Manafort spent about US$225,000 on three Range Rovers and a Mercedes-Benz.

And between 2008 and 2014, he poured money into a home in the Hamptons. Documents show Manafort paid a home improvement company on the Long Island enclave US$5.4 million during that time and paid two landscaping firms US$800,000.

5. NO TRANSACTION WAS TOO SMALL FOR PROSECUTORS

Mueller's team appears to have carefully examined Manafort's financial transactions - and no dealing was too small.

In one case in 2012, they found that Manafort paid US$3 million in cash for a Brooklyn brownstone. He then took out a US$5 million loan for construction to convert the property into a single-family home. Instead of using the loan only for construction, though, documents show Manafort used the funds to pay off the mortgage on another apartment and make a down payment on another property in California.