Documents show that Paul #Manafort, the former campaign manager to U.S. President Donald J. Trump, laundered at least $750,000 in payments from the political consultant’s former client, ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, member of parliament Sergii Leshchenko alleged at a March 21 briefing in Kyiv.
Leshchenko said the payment corresponds to one of 22 entries in a once-secret “black ledger” belonging to Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. The ledgers show a total of $12.7 million in payments to Manafort, supposedly for political consulting services. Manafort has denied the allegations.
Leshchenko said that documents found in Manafort’s former office near Maidan Nezalezhnosti in January verify $750,000 in payments, including an invoice with Manafort’s signature. Copies of the documents include bank statements showing a money transfer from Ukraine to the United States via a bank account in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
The $750,000 payment, if verified, would be the first confirmation of the string of payments contained in the “black ledger,” which also includes billions of dollars in bribes paid on behalf of Yanukovych’s political party from 2007 to 2012. Yanukovych fled power on Feb. 22, 2014, after the 100-day EuroMaidan Revolution in which 100 demonstrators were killed days before he escaped Ukraine.
Manafort resigned from Trump’s campaign after disclosure in August of the ledgers showing $12.7 million in cash payments to him.
Manafort denied Leshchenko’s allegations, telling the New York Times through a spokesman that the allegations were “baseless.”
The new documents that Leshchenko revealed purport to show Manafort entering into a contract with a Belize-based firm called Neocom Systems Limited.
Leshchenko displayed an invoice billing Neocom for $750,000 over the purchase of 501 computers. The money went to an account in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, before going ultimately to the United States, Leshchenko said.
The parliamentarian claimed that Manafort’s signatures were on all the documents, and that Kyrgyz banks were a favorite choice of the Yanukovych administration for laundering dark money.
Leshchenko, a member of President Poroshenko’s dominant 135-member bloc in parliament, held his press conference one day after U.S. FBI Director James Comey testified before a U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee that his agency is investigating contacts between the Russian government and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. When asked about Manafort, Comey declined to comment.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer argued in a March 20 press conference that Manafort played a minimal role in the campaign, despite his position as campaign manager for two months.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of #Ukraine (#NABU), which opened an investigation into Manafort over the payments in August, reportedly ended the probe in early November, after Trump’s election.
Leshchenko would not not talk about whether he had given the documents to American investigators, but called on them to look at the issue.
“This has to be investigated by Ukrainian and U.S. enforcement agencies,” #Leshchenko said.