17:08 GMT27 November 2020
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    Questions remain in the investigation of top Donald Trump aide Paul Manafort’s relationship to former Ukraine Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych, but if he took illicit funds, it could hurt the Republican candidate's presidential campaign, former US ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Monday, the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) reported on its discovery of $12.7 million in cash payments to Manafort from Yanukovych's Party of Regions between 2007 and 2012.

    "No one should be surprised that Yanukovych paid Manafort for his services. He was Manafort's client. But if Manafort was involved in something illicit, that would be a problem for the Trump campaign," Herbst said.

    Manafort, then a hired political advisor to Yanukovych, had his name listed 22 times on a "black ledger" recording off-the-books payments, according to the NABU.

    Herbst, who is currently the director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, noted that Manafort "presumably did well working for Yanukovych." Whether or not Manafort was engaged in questionable activity on behalf of the former Ukrainian government "is only a possibility being looked at by the NABU."

    On Monday, the New York Times reported that Manafort had worked with "pro-Russian" parties in Ukraine and "mixed politics and business" in order to personally benefit from powerful interests in the country.

    Manafort denied taking "a single ‘off-the-books cash payment’" or ever doing work "for the governments of Ukraine or Russia," as alleged by the New York Times.

    The potentially damaging reports against Manafort follow continuous Democratic demonization of Russia and accusations of ties between the Republican nominee and influentials in Moscow.

    Russia has denied any interference in US elections.


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