Report: After leaving campaign, Manafort borrowed millions from Trump-tied businesses
On the same day Paul Manafort stepped down as the campaign chairman for Donald Trump’s White House run last August, he formed a shell corporation and took out loans worth $13 million from Trump-connected businesses, according to a New York Times report on Wednesday. It’s the newest revelation in a string of reports about Manafort’s complex financial transactions and six-figure loans. The federal government announced that it is probing some of Manafort’s dealings — including offshore accounts in Cyprus — but it’s not clear whether these loans are part of that inquiry. Manafort acquired millions of dollars worth of real estate over roughly the last decade — purchased in cash — and has taken out sizable loans against them. One of his properties is a prized condo in Trump Tower in New York. He has long insisted that he has done nothing improper, in both his investments and his foreign lobbying work. “There is nothing out of the ordinary about them and I am confident anyone who isn’t afflicted with scandal fever will come to the same conclusion,” Manafort told the New York Times, referring to the various loans, worth as much as $20 million by the Times’ calculation. One $3.5 million loan taken out by Manafort on the day he resigned in August came from a New York investment firm called Spruce Capital. Its co-founder, Joshua Crane, has been a developer of some of Trump’s hotel projects, the Times reported. One of the firm’s billionaire investors, with extensive business experience in Ukraine, donated to Trump’s campaign, but he told the Times he had never met Manafort and was not involved in the loan. The investor, Alexander Rovt, also donated Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year. The second loan Manafort secured through the newly created shell corporation took out a $9.5 million loan from Federal Savings Bank of Chicago shortly after Election Day. The bank is led by Stephen Calk, who served as an economic adviser to Trump at the time. Questions swirling about Manafort’s finances and past lobbying work — including for Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted pro-Russia Ukrainian president — ultimately led to his departure from the campaign. His work to boost the image of pro-Russia figures, including Yanukovych and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, have partially fueled the allegations that the Trump campaign had connections the Russian government’s meddling in the U.S. election. Manafort was serving in an unpaid capacity for Trump and helped coordinate delegates at the Republican National Convention that summer. On Wednesday, two K Street firms that had worked for a Brussels-based nonprofit with ties to Yanukovych’s political party retroactively began the process to register with the Justice Department for the work, saying that it could have benefitted Ukraine’s government. The Associated Press last year reported that Manafort’s firm had introduced the client to the two firms — Podesta Group and Mercury — and helped with some of the advocacy strategies. A spokesman for Manafort on Wednesday declined to say whether Manafort would also be retroactively registering as a foreign agent for the work that occurred in the United States. “Mr. Manafort received formal guidance recently from the authorities and he is taking appropriate steps in response to the guidance,” he said.