Two search warrants partially unsealed in Alexandria federal court in the past two days reveal new details of Paul Manafort’s complicated financial dealings with a Russian oligarch, including evidence of a $10 million loan.
Prosecutors with the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election unsealed redacted versions of the warrants to search Manafort’s Virginia condominium and storage unit in advance of a Friday hearing, at which the ex-lobbyist hopes to have the seized evidence thrown out.
Manafort told the FBI he had done work for aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, and an unidentified source told agents Deripaska helped fund Manafort’s work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, according to the court papers.
Manafort, who served as President Trump’s campaign chairman for five months, faces trial on bank and tax fraud charges in the Eastern District of Virginia next month related to his work in Ukraine. He is accused of illegally hiding millions of dollars that prosecutors say he made from that work in offshore bank accounts and failing to pay taxes on it.
On his 2010 tax returns, Manafort reported a $10 million loan from a “Russian lender” to a company he owned with his wife. When searching his storage unit last year, agents say they found records identifying the lender as “Derapaska.”
Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest men, is widely seen as an important ally of President Vladimir Putin.
While serving as Trump’s campaign chairman, Manafort offered through an intermediary to give Deripaska “private briefings” about the race, according to correspondence, portions of which were read to The Washington Post. Deripaska has said he was never offered the briefings and did not receive them.
The search warrants also describe questions concerning Manafort’s finances that date back several years.
In 2015, Manafort wrote to First Republic Bank objecting to the bank’s determination to close all accounts associated with him “based on its anti-money laundering policies and concerns about incoming international wires,” according to one search warrant affidavit.
Millions of dollars came to Manafort through bank accounts in Cyprus, which he told the FBI were used to pay for his work in Ukraine, although he claimed not to know who had set them up, according to the court papers. His former business partner, Richard Gates, told the FBI he was directed to open the accounts by the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff.
According to the affidavit, Manafort told the bank the money he received from Ukraine was for “very public consulting services” from “legitimate activities that were totally legal,” and that he had “no interaction with oligarchs for business.”
In his own 2014 interview with the FBI, according to the court filings, Gates said that “various oligarchs would chip in” to pay for their work.
Gates has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI, and he is cooperating with the special counsel.
The Associated Press reported last year that Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract with Deripaska in 2005, a report that Deripaska contested in a lawsuit against the news outlet. Deripaska has twice filed lawsuits accusing Manafort and Gates of taking $19 million intended for investment and then failing to account for the funds or return them.
The unsealing of the search warrants was first reported by Reuters.
On Tuesday, the judge overseeing Manafort’s trial declined to throw the case out for lack of jurisdiction. Manafort is set to go to trial in Virginia on July 25 and faces related charges in D.C. federal court.
Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.