As part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election, an indictment was issued against Paul Manafort, who served as Donald Trump’s campaign manager for a brief period in 2016. The indictment—the full text of which can be read over at Vox.com—also names Manafort aide Richard Gates.
The two men are being charged with various crimes, including “conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, seven separate counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, making false and misleading statements under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and making false statements to federal investigators,” according to Vox.
The money laundering charges are tied to real estate that Manafort owns in New York City, specifically a condo on Howard Street in Soho, and a house on Union Street in Carroll Gardens, both of which were bought in all-cash transactions through a shell corporation based in Cyprus.
According to the indictment, Manafort claimed that the Howard Street apartment was a secondary residence for his daughter and son-in-law, when in fact, he was renting it out on Airbnb, “among other places.” He falsely represented it as a residence to a bank in order to receive a mortgage of approximately $3.185 million, which would have been lower had he disclosed that it was being used to generate income. And let’s not forget that it’s illegal to rent an apartment on Airbnb for fewer than 30 days if the owner is not also present in the space.
As for the Carroll Gardens house, Manafort purchased it for approximately $3 million back in 2012, and sought a $5 million construction loan in order to convert the onetime apartment building into a single-family home. However, according to the indictment, he did not use the funds from that loan for repairs to the brownstone; instead, he used them to pay off debts on other properties, a violation of the terms of the loan.
Manafort’s real estate transactions have been the subject of scrutiny for months now, with a WNYC deep dive this spring noting that his “puzzling” deals “fit a pattern used in money laundering.” New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance have also reportedly been looking into Manafort’s New York City homes for evidence of wrongdoing.
And while it wasn’t named in Mueller’s indictment, Manafort’s Trump Tower condo—which he purchased, again in an all-cash deal, in 2006 through an LLC called John Hannah—has also been eyed for shady dealings. Manafort has allegedly benefited from a tax break available to NYC condo owners, receiving as much as $5,000 per year through the program; however, it’s only available to those who claim their New York property as a primary residence. And as we previously reported,
Manafort has claimed both the Trump Tower condo and a condo in Palm Beach, FL as his primary residence; he’s registered to vote based on the Florida address, and even voted in that state in the 2016 election. And crucially, Manafort has also received a tax break on that condo under a program known as the Homestead Exemption—which is, of course, not allowed if his primary residence is elsewhere.
As for the indictment, Manafort and Gates both surrendered themselves to authorities on Monday morning; what happens next remains to be seen.
- Paul Manafort indicted: Trump’s former campaign chair facing charges in Mueller investigation [Vox]
- Read the unsealed indictment against Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort [Vox]
- Paul Manafort’s NYC real estate transactions are being probed: report [Curbed]
- Paul Manafort benefits from illegal tax break on Trump Tower condo: report [Curbed]
- Paul Manafort’s ‘puzzling’ NYC real estate transactions raise eyebrows [Curbed]