11:53 GMT04 June 2020
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    The Associated Press (AP) news agency on Tuesday insisted its reports on Russian billionaire and aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska's ties with US President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort were correct.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier in March, AP claimed it had obtained information about Manafort's annual contract worth $10 million with Deripaska signed in 2006. The news outlet said the obtained documents, allegedly authored by Manafort, implicated him in work to "greatly benefit the Putin government" by furthering its interests in the United States and Europe as well as the former Soviet states. The relationship continued at least until 2009, according to AP.

    "We stand by our reporting," Lauren Easton, AP’s director of media relations, told Sputnik. Meanwhile, Easton did not respond to Sputnik's request to present the obtained documents, also reaffirming the agency's confidence in its report.

    The AP story has been dismissed by all the sides mentioned. Deripaska called the claims of his $10-million contract to promote the Russian government's interest "a lie," threatening legal action over any false allegations against him. Deripaska's official spokesperson said that Manafort provided the billionaire with consultations within the framework of contracts which exclusively related with Deripaska's business interests.

    Manafort also acknowledged that he had cooperated with Russian businessman in the past, but emphasized that these activities were not related to the political sphere and that he had not represented Russia's interests.

    The White House distanced itself from the story by stressing that all the allegations date back over a decade and that Trump was not aware of Manafort's previous clients.

    Manafort resigned from Trump's campaign in August, long before the presidential election in November. He had been accused of previously accepting millions of dollars in off-the-books payments from deposed Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych's Party of Regions while working as an adviser to the former head of state.


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    Paul Manafort, Oleg Deripaska, United States, Russia
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