Feds seek $3 million from Paul Manafort for failing to disclose offshore accounts

“Today’s civil lawsuit seeks financial judgment against Mr. Manafort for simply failing to file a tax form,” attorney Jeffrey Neiman said in a statement. “Mr. Manafort knew the government was going to sue because it tried for months to resolve this civil case. Nevertheless, the government insisted on filing this lawsuit just to embarrass Mr. Manafort.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the complaint.

Manafort told POLITICO earlier this month that he planned to return to work soon doing what he called “general business advice.”

At a 2018 jury trial in Alexandria, Virginia on some of the various criminal charges, Manafort was found guilty of failing to file a foreign bank account report for 2012, but the jury did not return a verdict. verdict on the same charge for 2013 and 2014. Jurors split 11-1 in favor of convicting Manafort on those counts, according to the verdict sheet and juror interviews.

The Justice Department lawsuit reports that federal prosecutors have concluded that Trump’s pardon does not cover the 2013 and 2014 charges, as well as the eight other counts on which the jury failed to reach a verdict. a unanimous verdict.

On the same day Trump left office in January 2021, former Mueller deputy Andrew Weissmann posted a legal commentary on the Just Security website arguing that Trump’s pardon for Manafort was poorly worded and did not cover charges for which he had never been convicted in Virginia. Noting that Manafort was sent home after serving his seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence after serving only two years, Weissmann argued that Manafort’s sentence was so modest that the Justice Department should consider prosecuting him. for the 10 failed charges. in Virginia along with other charges dismissed after he agreed to a plea deal with Mueller’s team to avoid a second trial in Washington.

“Reimposing an appropriate sentence – one imposed by two courts – is therefore not only fair in a system committed to the rule of law, but may increase the chances of finally learning the truth,” Weissmann wrote, indicating that he believed that Manafort knew more than him. had previously acknowledged Trump’s ties to Russia. Weissmann noted that Manafort admitted to all charges against him as part of the plea agreement and also agreed to waive any applicable statute of limitations.

Weissmann declined to comment on the lawsuit filed Thursday.

Justice Department lawyers seemed to have a broader view of Trump’s pardon than Weissmann. About a month later, government attorneys cited clemency telling a federal judge they were abandoning efforts to complete the forfeiture of three properties belonging to Manafort, including his luxurious Long Island estate.

“The Department has determined that because of President Trump’s full and unconditional pardon granted to Paul Manafort, it is necessary to dismiss the criminal forfeiture proceeding involving the four assets subject to the pending ancillary forfeiture proceeding.” , the Justice Department lawyers wrote. The decision paved the way for a Chicago bank to give Manafort loans backed by properties to seize and resell. (The bank said late last year that it expected to make a multimillion-dollar profit on the Manafort loans after selling the collateral.)

Although the Justice Department could have attempted to prosecute Manafort for the allegedly unfiled financial disclosures, the new court filing may signal that department attorneys concluded that a civil lawsuit was a more appropriate way to seek to penalize the former Trump campaign official more than to bring a new criminal prosecution.

The new lawsuit says Manafort failed to meet the requirement to report all foreign accounts under its control if the total account balance exceeds $10,000. While the lawsuit argues that Manafort failed to report 22 foreign accounts in 2013, the complaint acknowledges that 19 of those accounts had a “zero balance” by the middle of the following year. Two of the accounts had a balance of less than $200,000 at the time, while one had a balance of around $443,000, according to the suit.

All of the accounts were in the names of offshore companies that Manafort either controlled or had signing authority over the banks involved, according to the complaint. During criminal cases several years ago, prosecutors alleged that Manafort used the accounts to park funds he had earned through his work as a political consultant in Ukraine, but transferred some of the money to paying bills in the United States for real estate, landscaping and expensive custom clothing. . He also failed to pay tax on much of the money that remained abroad or on monies he used to pay debts here, prosecutors alleged.

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