By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
Former Trump campaign manager and Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort has agreed to pay $3.2 million to settle federal charges that he failed to disclose foreign bank accounts he used to funnel “millions of dollars” to himself without paying income taxes.
The agreement, following months of settlement discussions, was approved by Miami U.S. District Judge Rodolfo Ruiz last week.
The judgment against Manafort was entered for his “willful” failure to file timely annual Foreign and Financial Accounts (FBAR) reports disclosing his ownership or control of more than three dozen offshore companies and accounts as required by the Bank Secrecy Act. The penalties and interest assessed against him were for the tax years 2013 and 2014.
Palm Beach County records show that the IRS withdrew federal tax liens totaling $6.3 million against Manafort for the years 2010-2014 and 2017 after he apparently paid those back taxes in 2021.
Despite such large payouts, Manafort should continue to live comfortably in the home he and his wife, Kathleen, purchased for $1.5 million in 2007 – and Manafort deeded to his wife free and clear in 2018.
Here’s part of Realtor.com’s description of the residence: “Spectacular home nestled on corner lot with beautiful lake surrounding home on two sides, creating the feel of a private tropical island; plus fabulous views of the golf course. This home features 3 bedrooms plus den or 4th bedroom in the main house and a 1 bedroom/1 bath guest house.”
CIVIL PENALTIES NOT NEGATED BY PRESIDENTIAL PARDON
Manafort, 73, served as Donald Trump’s campaign manager from May to August 2016 when his job was blown up by various news stories raising questions about his ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin and his firm’s lobbying in the U.S. on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs and the government of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych – without disclosing his work as a foreign agent.
Twice, on the recommendation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Justice Department brought criminal charges against Manafort; twice he was convicted on charges that included tax and bank fraud, obstruction of justice and witness tampering; twice he was sentenced to prison. On Dec. 20, 2020, President Trump pardoned Manafort for both convictions.
The civil penalties assessed against Manafort for his offenses, however, were not affected by the pardon.
According to the government’s 13-page complaint, filed in April, Manafort didn’t report his interest in foreign accounts on his federal tax returns, or via a timely filed FBAR, for the years 2013 and 2014.
“Starting around 2006, Manafort conducted consulting work through DMP International LLC (DMP) or a related entity DMP International, Inc. in Ukraine,” the complaint says. DMP began as a limited liability company in Delaware in 2011 and was registered in Florida in 2012 “and remains in active standing today.” Its principal address is Manafort’s home in Palm Beach Gardens.
MANAFORT AND HIS CRONIES
“To assist Manafort’s work, DMP employed two additional individuals: Richard W. “Rick” Gates III, and Konstantin Kilimnik,” the complaint says.
Gates pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to the FBI and conspiring to hide from the government tens of millions of dollars in undisclosed lobbying fees that he and Manafort were paid by a pro-Russian politician in Ukraine.
Kilimnik was identified in August 2020 by the Senate Intelligence Committee that examined 2016 election interference as a “Russian intelligence officer.” A year later, the Treasury Department said that during that same election “Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy” provided to him by Manafort.
Kilimnik was indicted in 2018 on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice regarding unregistered lobbying work. Today, the FBI is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to Kilimnik’s arrest.
Between 2008 and 2014, the complaint says, “Manafort caused millions of dollars of wire transfers to be made from offshore nominee accounts, without paying taxes on that income.” The money was “deposited into accounts Manafort directed to be opened in the countries of Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the United Kingdom.”
Some accounts listed Manafort as an authorized signer or beneficial owner. Others were held in the name of shell corporations opened or operated by Gates, Kilimnik and others “on Manafort’s behalf,” the complaint says.
But when Manafort filed his taxes for 2013 and 2014, he “incorrectly marked ‘No’” when asked if he had a financial interest in any foreign accounts, the complaint says.
All that was before Trump hired Manafort to run his 2016 presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton. But, the complaint says, it was during the campaign that “allegations surrounding the election and certain foreign agent lobbying arose and a special counsel was appointed to investigate.”
The probe led to the two separate criminal cases against Manafort, one in Washington, D.C., to which Manafort pleaded guilty, and the other in Virginia, in which a jury found Manafort guilty on eight counts, including failure to file a Foreign and Financial Accounts report.
Manafort was represented in the civil penalties case by Fort Lauderdale attorney Jeff Neiman of the law firm Neiman Rashbaum & Pineiro. Neiman did not respond to a request for comment.