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The U.S. Department of Justice sued Paul Manafort, who served as former President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016, for nearly $ 3 million for failing to report his financial interest in foreign accounts in a timely manner.
A jury convicted Manafort of tax evasion and charges of bank fraud in August 2018, but President Trump pardoned him in 2020, shortly before he left office.
“The United States of America is bringing this case to impose outstanding civil sanctions against defendant Paul J. Manafort for his intentional failure to timely report his financial interests in foreign bank accounts,” the Department of Justice said Thursday in a U.S. District Court case. in West Palm Beach, Florida, Reuters reported.
The DOJ says it is seeking $ 2,976,350.15.
Manafort’s attorney, Jeffrey Neiman, characterized the trial as an attempt to harass his client. He said the government was seeking a penalty against Manafort “for simply failing to file a tax return.”
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“Mr Manafort was aware that the government would bring the case because he has been trying for months to resolve this civil case,” Neiman said. “Nevertheless, the government insisted on filing this case just to annoy Mr. Manafort.”
In the 2018 criminal fraud case that resulted in a conviction, prosecutors had accused Manafort of hiding the $ 16 million he earned for the U.S. tax authorities as a political consultant working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine to fund a lavish lifestyle. . They also accused him of lying to banks to secure $ 20 million in loans after his Ukrainian income dried up. He did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) until 2017, years after his work in Ukraine.
A Republican-led U.S. Senate committee concluded in 2020 that Manafort’s involvement in the Trump campaign posed a counter-intelligence threat that made the United States vulnerable to Russia.
Taken as a whole, Manafort’s high-level access and willingness to share information with people closely linked to the Russian intelligence services, in particular [Konstantin] Kilimnik and associates to [Oleg] Deripaska, represented a serious counter-espionage threat, “the committee wrote in a 966-page report.
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The case against Manafort came amid Attorney General Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s relations with Russia – an investigation that is currently at the heart of Attorney General John Durham’s own investigation. Trump has repeatedly claimed Mueller’s investigation was a “witch hunt,” and critics have accused the Trump-Russia investigation of relying on the insidious and unsubstantiated case of former British spy Christopher Steele, paid for by the Clinton campaign.
“It was an armament of law enforcement and national security operations, “Manafort told Fox News in January.” It was targeted. In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined this type of targeting that undermine his presidency and try to remove him from office. And there was no way I was ever going to be a part of it. “
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Manafort claimed law enforcement officers made him lie while he was serving time in jail from June 2018 to May 2020.