Politics

Ukraine details payments allegedly earmarked for former Trump aide

FILE-- Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, talks on his phone as preparations are made for the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, July 17, 2016. Manafort, installed as the chief strategist for Trump’s campaign after the firing of his original campaign manager, handed in his resignation on Aug. 19. He left after a major shake-up following a New York Times report about tumult within the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign. (Eric Thayer/The New York Times)
Eric Thayer/The New York Times/File 2016
Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, prior to the Republican National Convention.

MOSCOW — Once-secret accounting documents of Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin party were released Friday, purporting to show payments of $12.7 million earmarked for Paul Manafort, who resigned from his job as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman following the revelations.

Manafort’s resignation comes a day after The Associated Press reported that confidential emails from his firm contradicted his claims that he had never lobbied on behalf of Ukrainian political figures in the U.S.

The AP found that Manafort helped Ukraine’s Party of Regions secretly route at least $2.2 million to two Washington lobbying firms. Manafort told Yahoo News that the AP’s account was wrong.

Advertisement

Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which was set up in 2014 to deal with high-profile corruption cases, is studying the so-called black ledgers of the Party of Regions which investigators believe are essentially logs of under-the-table cash payments that the party made to various individuals.

epa05498769 Sergiy Leschenko (C), a deputy of the 'Petro Poroshenko Bloc' political party, points at an information screen as he speaks to the media during a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, 19 August 2016. Woman on left is not identified. The topic of the media briefing was 'Paul Manafort on Yanukovich service: proofs from the 'shadow accountancy' of the former Party of Regions' about a firm run by US businessman and Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who reportedly directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's ruling political party, attempting to sway the American public's opinion in favor of the country's pro-Russian government, during the presidential period of Victor Yanukovich, according to a report of the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency (UNIAN). EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY
ROMAN PILIPEY/EPA
Sergiy Leschenko, a deputy of the “Petro Poroshenko Bloc” pointed to alleged evidence of Paul Manafort’s Ukrainian ties during a news conference in Kiev Friday.
Get This Week in Politics in your inbox:
A weekly recap of the top political stories from The Globe, sent right to your email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The bureau on Friday released 19 pages of the logs which contain 22 line-item entries where Manafort is listed as the ultimate recipient of funds totaling $12.7 million. The bureau said, however, that it cannot prove that Manafort actually received the money because other people including a prominent Party of the Regions deputy signed for him in those entries.

Handwritten notes in a column describe what the payments were used for with entries such as: ‘‘Payment for Manafort’s services,’’ ‘’contract payment to Manafort’’ dated between November 2011 and October 2012.

Manafort and business associate Rick Gates, another top strategist in Trump’s campaign, were working in 2012 on behalf of the political party of Ukraine’s then-president, Viktor Yanukovych.

People with direct knowledge of Gates’ work told the AP that, during the period when Gates and Manafort were consultants to Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, Gates was also helping steer the advocacy work done by a pro-Yanukovych nonprofit that hired a pair of Washington lobbying firms.

Advertisement

The nonprofit, the newly created European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, was governed by a board that initially included parliament members from Yanukovych’s party. The nonprofit subsequently paid at least $2.2 million to the lobbying firms to advocate positions generally in line with those of Yanukovych’s government.

Two co-founders of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, Yevhen Geller and Vitaly Kolyuzhny, both former members of parliament, are listed in the released documents as recipients of funds on Manafort’s behalf.

Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned lawmaker, on Friday published several pages from the ledgers in an article in the respectable Ukrainska Pravda newspaper.

When asked if he has evidence that Manafort actually received the money that had been earmarked for him, Leshchenko said only investigators can prove that if they question the people named in the ledgers. Leshchenko said Manafort had worked in Ukraine for several years and that the entries in the ledgers are the only explanation of how he could have been paid.

Some Ukrainian politicians who have been mentioned in entries released earlier this year have confirmed to local media that the books are genuine.

Advertisement

Leshchenko also said Manafort continued to work in Ukraine after Yanukovych fled and a new pro-European government stepped in and that Manafort consulted the Party of Regions for the 2014 parliamentary election and visited Ukraine last year.

Jeff Horwitz and Chad Day in Washington, DC, contributed to this report.