Trump Campaign Chair Named in Black Accounts Linked to Ukrainian Ex-President

Paul Manafort is accused of receiving off-the-books payments.

ByABC News
August 15, 2016, 9:52 AM

— -- Ukrainian anti-corruption officials have confirmed that Donald Trump's campaign chairman's name appears in a list of so-called black accounts made by the country's toppled president.

Paul Manafort, who is playing an important role in this year's U.S. presidential election, has denied that he received any off-the-books payments from the Ukrainian government.

Accounts of the controversial payments surfaced this weekend when The New York Times reported that Manafort's name appears on a list of payments amounting to $12.7 million from 2007 to 2012.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Bureau confirmed the details in the Times story.

In the period covered by the payment list, Manafort worked for former Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych, who was supportive of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and was ousted in 2014.

The bureau spokesman emphasized that so far it has not been confirmed whether Manafort received the cash, since the bureau has not yet been able to confirm if signatures in the recipient column are Manafort's or not. The spokesman said the Anti-Corruption Bureau is conducting an analysis of the signatures.

“We can’t say 100 percent that this is his signature. We have an analysis going on to confirm whether this is his signature or not and, if not, who this signature belongs to," the spokesman said.

He confirmed that while the preliminary investigation is underway, the bureau is conducting "a criminal investigation on whole black accounts but not against individuals yet."

Manafort has denied receiving payments under the table from pro-Russian Ukrainian groups before becoming involved with the Trump campaign.

"I have never received a single off-the-books cash payment, as falsely 'reported' by The New York Times, nor have I ever done work for the governments of Ukraine or Russia," Manafort said in a statement released to ABC News.

"Further, all of the political payments directed to me were for my entire political team: campaign staff (local and international), polling and research, election integrity and television advertising. The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical," he said.

Manafort’s connections to Yanukovych and his party have surfaced intermittently over the past decade, first attracting notice during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign when Manafort's partner in his firm, Davis Manafort Inc., was found to be advising John McCain at the same time as the firm appeared to be working to improve Yanukovych’s image abroad. As the Wall Street Journal reported then, Department of Justice filings showed that Manafort’s firm had hired a PR company in Washington to lobby on behalf of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. The filings describe a firm owned by Manafort as being “directed by a foreign political party, the Ukraine Parties [sic] of Regions to consult on the political campaign in Ukraine.”

According to the filing, the PR firm, Daniel J. Edelman, Inc., was tasked with creating “a communications campaign to increase Prime Minister Yanukovych’s visibility in the U.S. and Europe” and to communicate “his actions toward making Ukraine a more democratic country.”

The WSJ reported again in 2010 just after Yanukovych won an expected return to the presidency, that members of the Party of Regions credited Manafort with the victory.

Manafort himself at the time refused to comment on this or other reports that he was advising the Ukrainian president.

Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, released a statement saying that the new revelations marked "more troubling connections between Donald Trump's team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine."

"Given the pro-Putin policy stances adopted by Donald Trump and the recent Russian government hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party records, Donald Trump has a responsibility to disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort's and all other campaign employees' and advisers' ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including whether any of Trump's employees or advisers are currently representing and or being paid by them," Mook said in a statement released Sunday night.

The Democratic National Committee on Monday called on Trump to "disclose any and all ties, financial or otherwise, that he or his campaign aides have to the Russian government.”

Allegations surrounding Manafort’s work in Ukraine are “especially troubling in light of the Russian government’s recently exposed cyber-attacks on the Democratic Party,” the committee said in a statement.

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