By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (4/17/17)
Dear Fellow Readers,
I want to start with two quotes from Paul Manafort. Now remember, Paul Manafort was Donald Trump’s campaign manger at the time the initial story of secret payments from the Ukrainian government to Manafort broke in August 2016.
To be fair, the first quote is from Richard Hibey, Manafort’s lawyer, “(Mr. Manafort had not received) any such cash payments”. That quote comes from a New York Times article “Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief”, one of a series for which the New York Times staff received a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting (a link to the full set of articles is at the end of this article).
But it turns out he DID receive payments linked to the secret Ukrainian ledger showing entries for $12.7 million paid to Manafort. Which brings us to the second quote; here is part of an April 12, 2017 article appearing in Time:
“In a statement to the AP on Tuesday, Manafort did not deny that his firm received the money but said “any wire transactions received by my company are legitimate payments for political consulting work that was provided. I invoiced my clients and they paid via wire transfer, which I received through a U.S. bank.”
“Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine was totally open and appropriate, and wire transfers for international work are perfectly legal,” Maloni said (Jason Maloni, Manafort’s spokesperson).
“He noted that Manafort had never been paid in cash. Instead, he said Manafort’s exclusive use of wire transfers for payment undermines the descriptions of the ledger last year given by Ukrainian anti-corruption authorities and a lawmaker that the ledger detailed cash payments.
“Previously, Manafort and Maloni have maintained the ledger was fabricated and said no public evidence existed that Manafort or others received payments recorded in it.”
So Manafort starts by asserting there were no payments, NO CASH, the ledger was fake, there was no such relationship. Some months later he now says there were payments, they were legitimate for services performed and payments were by WIRE TRANSFER – Ah, see, no cash.
Paul Manafort Schools Us On How To Be a Foreign Agent And How To Get Paid
But there is more, there seems to be no end to the coincidences. If you read the Time article you certainly noticed a few additional points. Of course the payments eventually landed in a US bank, but they were routed through companies registered in Belize. Incorporations and bank accounts in tax havens shield owners and beneficiaries – meaning you don’t know who owns the company or holds the bank accounts (think Panama Papers).
Yes, the money did eventually land in an account with a US bank after being routed through different companies registered in Belize. But the money also passed through the Bank of Cyprus. The Bank of Cyprus was then headed by Wilbur Ross who is now Donald Trump’s commerce secretary. So with no prior experience in banking, no prior involvement with Cyprus – a country known for laundering Russian money, Ross becomes vice-chairman of a bank that coincidentally is used by Paul Manafort to move money to Belize then on to the US. The Raw Story has the story, House Intel Member Heads To Russia’s Money Laundering Island Cyprus.
If you want to launder money, here’s how it is done:
Manafort-linked company received $1 million through the Bank of Cyprus—then-headed by Ross—from a mysterious firm; that transaction went through the Bank of Cyprus, and was split in half “to accounts with no obvious owner.” Documents released by a Ukranian lawmaker show Manafort laundered those payments to offshore accounts.
(Note: based on timing the payments referenced by Rawstory cannot be the same as those listed in the Ukrainian ledger mentioned initially in the New York Times article from August 2015.)
Better Late Than Never? Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn Broke Federal Law By Failing to Register as Foreign Agents
Manafort is now retroactively registering with the Justice Department as a foreign agent; registering retroactively is an admission that he failed to disclose his work as required by federal law. Manafort can work on his registration with Mike Flynn who also failed to report as required by federal law and is also registering retroactively. I wouldn’t recommend getting help from Jared Kushner who either forgot or turned in his Top Secret Clearance application before he had properly reported his DOZENS of meetings with Russians. And maybe avoid Jeff Sessions who failed to acknowledge two meetings with Sergey (Kysliak, Russian Ambassador), oops, make that three meetings. Paul Manafort To Register As A Foreign Agent Over Past Lobbying Work
And finally, the Ukrainian government says the money was stolen from the Ukrainian citizens and they want the money returned.
United States Late In Seeing Signs of Trump- Russian Collusion
It turns out the United States was the country slowest to react to Trump-Russian collusion, The Trump-Russia Connection Was the Buzz All Over Europe in 2016:
….The Guardian has been told the FBI and the CIA were slow to appreciate the extensive nature of contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow ahead of the US election….“It looks like the [US] agencies were asleep,” the source added. “They [the European agencies] were saying: ‘There are contacts going on between people close to Mr Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this.’
Coming Attractions: Oleg Deripaska and Carter Page (Male-1)
While reviewing news about Manafort I kept seeing the name Oleg Deripaska and thinking, where have I heard that name? To explain as simply as I can – he is a Russian oligarch, a friend of Putin and a business associate of Paul Manafort. I’m sure you remember former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and his Trump dossier. Deripaska met with a suspected Steele source, the same source who disclosed the (alleged?) kompromot – the sex trap used to blackmail Trump. Trump says the dossier is “phony stuff” but slowly aspects of the dossier are confirmed and there are discussions under way to have Steele appear before the Senate Intelligence committee.
Carter Page Male-1
We’ll be hearing a lot more about Carter Page; he’s confirmed he is Male-1 as he was referred to for his assistance in a US federal investigation of three Russian agents, one of whom is Evgeny Buryakov who operated undercover as an executive in New York of a Russian bank – the same bank that Jared Kushner met with. More coincidences. Male-1 was the label Russian agents gave Page as they tried to recruit him to spy. Trump Campaign Adviser Carter Page Targeted Ror Recruitment By Russian Spies
The Christopher Steele dossier states that Carter Page was offered the Rosneft 19% privatization brokerage if US sanctions against Russia were lifted. Memos: CEO Of Russia’s State Oil Company Offered Trump Adviser, Allies A Cut Of Huge Deal If Sanctions Were Lifted.
Watch the video of the interview conducted by George Stephanopoulos. Page won’t even reveal who brought him into the Trump campaign and offers the now standard remarks downplaying his role: Former Trump Adviser Can’t Recall If He Discussed Sanctions With Russians
- The New York Times wins the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for its reporting on the Russia issue. The full set of articles comprising the winning work appear HERE.
- For extra, extra credit here is a link the Saturday broadcast of This American Life which focused on Vladimir Putin, “The Other Mr. President” (4/14/2017). While it’s not germane to Trump-Russian collusion it offers interesting insights into Putin’s politics. Audio