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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Former Trump campaign manager Manafort faces criminal charges

The single-page document did not reveal the nature of the new charges in the case involving Paul Manafort

Mr Manafort, who was the president’s campaign manager for almost five months in 2016, was indicted in October. Brendan Smialowski / AFP
Mr Manafort, who was the president’s campaign manager for almost five months in 2016, was indicted in October. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

New sealed criminal charges have been filed in a case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller against of two former campaign officials of US President Donald Trump, a federal court record indicated on Wednesday.

The single-page document, filed at the US District Court for the District of Columbia, did not reveal the nature of the new charges against manager Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates.

Its inclusion in a binder in the court clerk’s office that is routinely updated with new criminal charges signals that Mr Mueller’s office may have filed a superseding indictment replacing a previous one from last year against the two men.

Mr Manafort was Mr Trump's campaign manager for almost five months in 2016, and Mr Gates, his deputy, were indicted in October. They face charges including conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to defraud the United States and failure to file as foreign agents for lobbying work they did on behalf of the pro-Russian Ukrainian Party of Regions. Both have pleaded not guilty.

It was unclear when any new charges would be announced publicly.

Last Friday, the special counsel’s office revealed in a court filing that it had uncovered “additional criminal conduct” by Mr Manafort in connection with a series of “bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies” related to a mortgage on his property in Fairfax, Virginia, a Washington suburb.

Mr Mueller is probing Russia’s involvement in the 2016 US presidential election and whether the Republican president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the investigation. Russia denies the allegations. Mr Trump says there was no collusion.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the new court filing. Attorneys for the indicted pair could not be immediately reached for comment. A spokesman for Mr Manafort declined to comment.

Last year, intelligence agencies found that Russia had meddled in the election and that its goals eventually included aiding Mr Trump who won a surprise victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Mr Manafort has been under house arrest since he was charged. He and prosecutors have struggled to agree on bail terms to permit him to leave his home, though some of those details have remained under seal.

However, on Friday, Mr Mueller’s office revealed that it is concerned about alleged bank fraud in connection with one of the properties pledged as collateral.

In Friday’s filing, prosecutors claimed that Mr Manafort secured his mortgage from the Chicago-based Federal Savings Bank by doctoring profit and loss statements from his lobbying firm and “overstating its income by millions of dollars.”

Prosecutors said they plan to offer the court more evidence about the alleged misconduct at the next bail hearing.

The Federal Savings Bank is led by Stephen Calk, who served an economic advisory panel on the Trump campaign. Calk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Mueller on Tuesday stepped up pressure on the two men to cooperate in his investigation, unsealing a criminal charge against a Dutch lawyer, Alex van der Zwaan, for lying to Mueller’s investigators.

The charge arises from work that Mr Van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of one of Russia’s richest men, did on a 2012 report about the trial of Ukraine’s former prime minister while he was employed as a lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

The report was used to justify the pre-trial detention of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko by her rival, and Manafort’s client, pro-Russian former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

Mr Manafort and his deputy lobbied in connection with the rollout of the report, and are accused by Mueller’s office of facilitating secret payments for the report through off-shore bank accounts.

The special counsel last Friday also indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for their alleged involvement in a criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper in the 2016 US presidential campaign.

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