According to the Special Counsel Robert Mueller office's statement, US President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his ex-business associate Rick Gates, who are yet to comment on the charges, have been indicted on 12 counts, including "conspiracy against the US."
In late June, Manafort himself filed financial disclosure forms under the Foreign Agents Registration Act — which requires people working on behalf of foreign political leaders, governments or political entities to register with the US Department of Justice — his filing included $17.1 million in payments for lobbying on behalf of a Ukrainian political party.
"Paul J. Manafort, Jr., of Alexandria, Va., and Richard W. Gates III, of Richmond, Va., have been indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 27, 2017, in the District of Columbia. The indictment contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA [Foreign Agent Registration Act] statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts."
The indictment states that Manafort, who had worked as an advisor to Ukraine's former president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was later ousted during a violent coup d-etat in February 2014, had been engaged in a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign in the US at the request of Kiev.
"Between at least 2006 and 2015, Manafort and Gates acted as unregistered agents of the Government of Ukraine, the Party of Regions (a Ukranian political party whose leader Victor Yanukovych was President from 2010 to 2014), Yanukovych, and the Opposition Bloc (a successor to the Party of Regions that formed in 2014 when Yanukovych fled to Russia)."
According to the special counsel's statement, Manafort laundered over $18 million through many US and foreign entities to hide payments from the US authorities, "which was used by him to buy property, goods, and services in the United States," without paying taxes.
"In total, more than $75,000,000 flowed through the offshore accounts," the indictment reads.
White House Pledges Support for Russia Probe
Trump has commented on the charges against Manafort, saying that his former campaign manager was accused with regard to dealings he had made "years ago", prior to becoming part of his election team, and yet again reiterating that there was "no collusion" with Moscow.
Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 30 октября 2017 г.
….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 30 октября 2017 г.
Previously, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway has pledged the US administration's support for the Russia probe, adding "We don't even know that it has anything to do with the campaign."
Sputnik has contacted White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters concerning the indictment of Manafort. "The White House isn’t commenting on this," Walters responded when asked if she thought the indictments would negatively impact the White House or Trump."
Earlier in the day, CNN has released a footage of Manafort arriving at FBI's office just minutes after the New York Times reported citing a source that Manafort and his former business associate Gates had been ordered to surrender to federal authorities.
Hours later, ABC News reported that Manafort has arrived at the US District Court for the District of Columbia for initial appearance after Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller announced his indictment earlier on Monday. Manafort's car was allegedly spotted entering the courthouse’s garage this afternoon.
Other reports in local media suggest the alleged charges against Manafort include tax fraud.
Manafort is perp walked through the front door of the FBI field office pic.twitter.com/LQdppFwTeW— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) 30 октября 2017 г.
The news of Manafort being charged come days after media speculations suggested that the first charges in the Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's probe into the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election were approved by a federal grand jury on Friday and are still sealed under orders of a federal judge.
Manafort resigned from Trump's campaign long before the presidential election in November 2016.
Currently, two separate investigations into Russia's alleged interference in the November 2016 election are being conducted in the US — by the special cousel, Robert Mueller, and Congress.
According to media reports, several members of Donald Trump's presidential campaign have been suspected of an "alleged collusion" with Russia, a claim strongly denied as "absurd" by the Kremlin. It his turn, the US president has repeatedly called the Russia probe a "witch hunt" aimed to justify his former rival's, Hillary Clinton, loss in the election.