KYIV, Oct. 30 - Donald Trump's former presidential campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been charged with conspiring to defraud the US in his dealings with Ukraine, BBC reported.
The 12 charges brought against Manafort and one of his business associates, Rick Gates, include conspiracy to launder money. They stem from an inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the US election.
The charges against Manafort and Gates do not relate to Trump's campaign but to the alleged concealment of payments from the pair's Ukrainian business dealings up to 2016.
Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker who helped to expose Manafort’s corrupt business practices in Ukraine, welcomed the news.
“It’s important to show that bad guys will be punished,” Leshchenko said in a tweet.
Leshchenko criticized Manafort for helping Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian politician and one of the most corrupt leaders in the world, be elected the president of Ukraine in 2010.
“Manafort helped one of the most corrupt persons in the world to be elected president,” Leshchenko said. “And he will pay the price. Hope corrupt Ukrainian clients of Manafort too.”
An investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into any links between Russia and the Trump campaign. Both sides deny any collusion.
The indictment looks at Manafort’s and Gates’ links to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine between 2006 and 2015.
It says they acted as "unregistered agents" of Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych and his party, both in opposition and government.
Yanukovych was deposed as president in 2014 amid mass unrest over his pro-Russian policies.
Manafort is accused of having laundered more than $18m through offshore bank accounts, using it to buy property, goods and services in transactions concealed from the US authorities.
He is said to have "used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle" in America.
Altogether, at least $75 million in payments from Ukraine flowed through the accounts, the indictment says.
Manafort will be under growing pressure to co-operate with the Mueller investigation. If he offers up useful information about his time during the campaign, this could be just the first domino to fall. (bbc.nr/ez)