World / Politics

Manafort gave wildly varying estimates of his wealth to banks

Bloomberg

When Paul Manafort wanted to borrow money in the past five years he gave lenders wildly varying estimates of his wealth, ranging from $19 million to $136 million, according to special counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller’s prosecutors released new personal details Tuesday about Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, who is accused of hiding his work as an agent of Ukraine, laundering millions of dollars, and concealing foreign accounts. Manafort’s right-hand man, Rick Gates, faces the same charges.

Both men were indicted Friday and pleaded not guilty Monday, after their case was unsealed. Prosecutors said they fear the two men may flee before their trial. Manafort faces as many as 15½ years in prison if convicted, while Gates faces up to 12½ years, the U.S. said.

“The seriousness of the charges, and penalties that the defendants face, along with their extensive international connections and financial resources, establish that they pose a serious risk of flight,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.

They said Manafort’s financial holdings are “substantial, if difficult to quantify precisely because of his varying representations.” He has “represented the value of his assets on loan applications and other financial documents in divergent amounts, which suggests considerable resources.”

Prosecutors also cited Manafort’s widespread travels, saying he applied for 10 passports in 10 years and went to Mexico, China and Ecuador this year with a phone and an email registered to an alias.

When they appeared in court on Monday, Manafort’s bail was set at $10 million and Gates’s was put at $5 million. Both are under house arrest. At a hearing on Thursday, they are expected to seek a bail reduction.

Gates, who worked overseas with Manafort for a decade and also joined the Trump campaign, sought a line of credit last year, saying he was worth $30 million, prosecutors said. But a month later, in a home loan application, he listed his total assets as $2.6 million.

Gates also opened 55 accounts with 13 financial institutions from December 2004 to January 2017, according to the filing. At least 30 of those accounts remained open in the last six months, the U.S. said.

Prosecutors accuse the men of failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act while working as political consultants for the Ukrainian government; laundering money through a web of accounts; lying to the Justice Department about their FARA requirements; and failing to tell the Treasury Department about the offshore accounts.

The filing included a 37-page, Oct. 2 opinion from U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell that ordered a former lawyer for the men to testify to a grand jury about her communications with FARA lawyers at the Justice Department.