Manafort, Gates indicted on new tax and bank fraud charges
Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a 32-count indictment Thursday hitting former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates with fresh charges of tax evasion and bank fraud.
Manafort is specifically charged with five counts related to filing false income tax returns and four counts of failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts. Gates is accused of 11 counts related to filing false income tax returns and three counts of failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts. Both men are accused of nine counts of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Prosecutors claim the men doctored financial documents, lied to tax preparers and defrauded banks — using money they cycled through offshore accounts to spend lavishly, including on real estate, interior decorating and other luxury goods.
The new indictment comes a week after Mueller filed charges against 13 Russians, accusing them of a vast conspiracy to undermine the U.S. presidential election.
The charges against Manafort and Gates don’t relate to any allegations of misconduct related to Trump’s campaign, though Mueller is continuing to investigate potential ties to the Kremlin.
The two men were initially charged in a 12-count indictment last October that accused them of a multimillion-dollar money-laundering conspiracy tied to their foreign lobbying work. They are accused of directing a covert Washington lobbying campaign on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian interests. Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to the initial charges.
The charges against Manafort and Gates arise from their foreign lobbying and efforts that prosecutors say they made to conceal their income by disguising it as loans from offshore companies. More recently, after their Ukrainian work dwindled, the indictment also accuses them of fraudulently obtaining more than $20 million in loans from financial institutions.
The new indictment increases the amount of money Manafort, with the assistance of Gates, is accused of laundering to $30 million. It also charges Manafort and Gates with filing false tax returns from 2010 through 2014 and in most of those years concealing their foreign bank accounts from the IRS.
The new indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va. It leaves open the possibility that Manafort or Gates could face additional state charges of filing false tax returns.
In a document that accompanied the new indictment, prosecutors said they had filed the charges in Virginia, rather than Washington where the other case is pending, because the alleged conduct occurred there and one of the defendants objected to them being brought in Washington.
The indictment comes amid ongoing turmoil in the Manafort and Gates defense camps. Manafort has been unable to reach an agreement with prosecutors over the terms of his bail and remains under house arrest, while Gates’s lawyers withdrew from the case after acknowledging “irreconcilable differences” with their client. A new lawyer, Thomas Green, entered an appearance Thursday on Gates’s behalf.
Mueller was appointed in May to investigate potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. He took over an ongoing FBI investigation into Manafort’s foreign lobbying work.
After a two-month stretch that produced no charges, the new indictment is part of a flurry of activity for Mueller’s team within the past week.
Besides the charges against the Russians, Mueller’s team on Tuesday unsealed a guilty plea from a Dutch lawyer who admitted he lied to investigators about his contacts with Gates.
Manafort and Gates, who also worked on Trump’s campaign, both pleaded not guilty after their indictment last fall.
Two other people who aided Trump in the campaign or in the White House — former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos — have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their foreign contacts. Neither man has been sentenced. Both are cooperating with the investigation.
Mueller is also examining whether Trump obstructed justice through actions including the firing last May of FBI Director James Comey. His team has expressed interest in interviewing the president.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Jon Decker contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.