PANAMA PAPERS: Paul Manafort and The Ukrainian Connection

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paul manafort, panama papers
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THE UKRAINIAN CONNECTION

BY GARY S. WOLFE, ESQ.

Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for Republican Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has been linked to Ukrainian clients named in the Panama Papers. The anonymity offshore shell corporations provide individuals is a stated reason for their use in order to keep assets owned as confidential information. Although there are both legal and benign reasons for using these offshore shell corporations both the anonymity and lack of transparency into where their money originates and is invested makes them vehicles for funneling illicit gains into elite assets.

A recent World Bank Study of 213 major global corruption cases found that 70% of them involved the use of at least one secret corporation to hide true ownership. Currently, it is unknown whether Manafort had any involvement with these Ukrainian clients’ shell companies since inquiries made by the publication Fusion requesting comment from Manafort and the Trump campaign were not returned.

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Fusion.net (Adam Weinstein and Laura Juncadella) in 7/16 reported that Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager appears to be linked to pro-Russian politicians and Ukraine industrialists in his capacity as a political consultant. Manafort has advised former Ukraine President, Vitktor Yanukovych who won the Ukraine Presidency in 2010 and was then deposed in 2014 by a popular Ukraine uprising and now lives in Russia. Yanukovych and his Party of Regions were alleged to funnel government Money to his “family” of oligarchs and party supporters. A 2007 US embassy cable describes the Party of Regions inner circle ‘Ukraine’s history is marred with non-transparent privatizations that have benefitted a few well-connected insiders”. Manafort was described by Boris Kolesnikov a Yanukovich party insider as “one of a lot of good people” consulting Ukraine’s politicians.

Two of the offshore Ukrainian clients have a US nexus:

  1. Oleg Derispaska, a Russian oligarch, who has been called “Vladimir Putin’s favorite industrialist” partnered with Manafort in 2007 to form a Cayman Islands based Investment company. Manafort’s firm was reportedly paid $7.4m in fees by Derispaska who then invested $18.9m to buy a Ukranian telecom firm. Derispaka eventually Pulled out, demanded his money back from Manafort which was never returned according to a lawsuit filed in Virginia by Cayman liquidators. The case is ongoing. Deripaska is barred from US travel over alleged organized crime ties, which he denies.
  2. In another lawsuit against Manafort and several associates, former workers in a company he formed with an ex-Trump real estate employee allege that they didn’t receive their promised salaries. According to court filings, the company set up a billion dollar US based property investment vehicle for Dmitro Firtash a Yanukovych insider and billionaire Ukrainian. The court filings allege that Manafort and Firtash worked together on other deals including an abandoned $850m plan to buy the Drake Hotel in New York. Firtash is wanted by authorities in Washington on suspicion of bribery and organized criminal activity, he was arrested in Austria in 2014 and the US seeks his extradition.

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Whether Manafort is involved with any of the offshore dealings revealed by the Panama Papers is not currently known. What has been revealed is that Manafort has made millions of dollars working for and with parties now being identified as owning shell companies offshore by the Panama Papers. Time will tell the extent of those ties.

Additionally, it was just recently reported (8/14/16) on Page 1 of the New York Times, Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

GARY S. WOLFEGary S. Wolfe, Esq.

The Wolfe Law Group represent U.S. Taxpayers for IRS Tax Audits, U.S. Investors who have International Investments, and Foreign Persons who invest in the United States. We have over 30 years of experience, specializing in IRS Tax Audits and International Tax Matters including: International Tax Planning/Tax Compliance, and International Asset Protection.

Tel: 323-782-9139 Email: gsw@gswlaw.com

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