Published: Wed, August 01, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Manafort earned $60M from Ukrainian consulting work, prosecutors say

Manafort earned $60M from Ukrainian consulting work, prosecutors say

According to the report, special counsel Robert Mueller's case is focused exclusively on accusations that Manafort committed financial crimes, ranging from tax evasion to bank fraud, that have no direct ties to his campaign work.

Despite a focus on financial crimes, the trial could yield politically damaging headlines about a man who ran Trump's campaign for three months and attended a June 2016 meeting with Russians offering damaging information on Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton that is now a focal point of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 14-month-old investigation.

In all, prosecutors say, more than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts Manafort and Gates set up.

The luxurious lifestyle was funded by Manafort's political consulting for the pro-Russian Ukrainian political party of Viktor Yanukovych, who was deposed as Ukraine's president in 2014.

Mr Asonye said Mr Manafort created "bogus" loans, falsified documents and lied to his tax preparer and bookkeeper to hide the money, which he obtained from Ukrainian oligarchs through a series of shell company transfers and later from fraudulently obtained bank loans in the US.

President Trump has wavered between showing sympathy for Mr Manafort and trying to distance himself.

A total of 16 jurors, 12 regular and four alternates, will be chosen after being screened for potential bias.

Five witnesses have been granted immunity from prosecution to testify against Manafort.

What spectators won't hear much about is his time running Trump's presidential campaign or attempts to prove he colluded with Russian officials to influence the election.

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Ellis had given the pool of 65 potential jurors an overview of the charges against Manafort, though he reminded the group that the indictment "is not evidence of any guilt whatsoever".

Gates has since pleaded guilty and agreed to help prosecutors with their case, as one of the government's star witnesses.

Three other aides, including Mr Manafort's longtime business partner Rick Gates, have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with Mueller's probe.

The trial is not expected to reveal many new details about Manafort's time as the chairman of the Trump campaign, and prosecutors have said they are not planning to introduce any evidence suggesting coordination between the campaign and Russia's influence operations.

"This is the way that they required it to be done", Zehnle said, arguing why oligarchs paid Manafort through secret foreign accounts.

Manafort was a senior Trump campaign aide and he led the campaign for several months, but the charges are not directly related to campaign activity, as the White House has repeatedly emphasized.

To avoid paying hefty taxes, prosecutors say, they set up secret shell companies and offshore accounts to funnel their Ukrainian proceeds disguised as "loans" to US accounts to buy multimillion-dollar properties and luxury goods. Manafort has filed a motion to have details of that work excluded from trial.

Mueller's team has estimated it could take eight to 10 days to present its case to the jury, suggesting the trial may last at least three weeks.

Manafort actively conferred with his lawyers during the jury selection process, writing and passing notes. President Donald Trump and Manafort have both said there was no collusion. He faces a second trial in September on conspiracy charges.

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