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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 March 2019

Former Trump aide Paul Manafort jailed for four years

Manafort will be jailed for defrauding banks and evading taxes

Mr Manafort was convicted by a Virginia jury in August of five counts of filing false income tax returns, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to report a foreign bank account. AFP
Mr Manafort was convicted by a Virginia jury in August of five counts of filing false income tax returns, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to report a foreign bank account. AFP

Paul Manafort, former political consultant and campaign manager for Donald Trump, has been sentenced to 47 months in prison for tax evasion and bank fraud.

On Thursday, Virginia judge Judge TS Ellis delivered one of two sentences against Manafort.

Next week another judge in Washington will announce her sentence, which could leave Manafort, who turns 70 next month, in prison for the rest of his life.

He was convicted and sentenced for defrauding banks and evading taxes on millions of dollars he made from a lucrative career in consulting, mostly for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who is now in exile in Russia.

The charges were uncovered by special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation when it began looking into Trump campaign ties with Moscow.

Mr Manafort did not co-operate as a witness but his money-laundering schemes and affiliations with Russia helped the Mueller team to uncover the network.

Prosecutors had called the charges against Manafort "serious, longstanding and bold”, and asked for a sentence between 19 and 24 years.

“Paul Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars," the wrote.

"The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes."

Addressing the judge during the sentencing on Thursday, Manafort said he appreciated the proceedings

"You bent over backwards to give me a fair trial," Manafort said. "Thank you for a fair trial."

The eight crimes for which he was sentenced included five convictions of tax fraud between 2010 and 2014, hiding foreign bank accounts from authorities in 2012, and fraudulently gaining more than $4 million from to banks in loans intended for real estate, CNN reported.

Manafort worked with the Trump campaign between March and August 2016 and took part in the Republican national convention.

He was arrested by the FBI after being indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2017 on charges of conspiracy and money laundering.

Since then his health has deteriorated and he has attended two of his court hearings in a wheelchair or a using a cane.

Ken Gude, a legal analyst based in Washington, said that Mr Manafort’s sentence was “a richly deserved outcome for a man who helped one of the worst politicians of this era to steal millions from his own people".

"His prosecution for numerous crimes that were essentially hiding in plain sight appears to have awoken the Department of Justice to the need for greater enforcement of these kinds of white-collar crimes," Mr Gude said.

Asked about the impact on the Muller investigation, he said the sentencing was "a significant victory for Mr Mueller, but far from his last word as we enter the final stages of his investigation of the Trump campaign's connections to Russia".

Mr Mueller is nearing the conclusion of his report, which will be submitted to US Attorney General William Barr.

Mr Trump is not expected to pardon Manafort.

Updated: March 8, 2019 05:17 AM

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