Paul Manafort to Belatedly Register as a Foreign Agent

Manafort's relationship to Yanukovych is controversial because the former Ukrainian president's close relationship to Moscow was the reason for his own downfall.

Manafort has been under the watch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice as part of an anti-corruption probe of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

As federal officials investigate Russian ties in the US presidential election, Manafort's ties with Ukraine and Russia have also come under examination. While he initially claimed the ledger listing $12.7 million in illegal off-the-books payments was fake, on Wednesday the AP confirmed that Manafort's consulting firm received at least $1.2 million of that money.

Manafort resigned as Trump's campaign chairman in August. According to the Associated Press, Manafort will now be registering with the Justice Department as a foreign agent.

Manafort's decision to register, is an acknowledgment that he failed to properly disclose his work to the Justice Department as required by law. Until the FBI finishes its investigation, however, exactly what Manafort's work as a foreign agent meant in relation to his campaign position will remain unclear.

Manafort, who resigned from the Trump campaign under a cloud of suspicion surrounding his lobbying work in Ukraine, has reportedly chose to register with the government as a foreign agent.

Also Wednesday, one of the Washington lobbying firms involved in the covert effort for the Ukrainian party, the Podesta Group Inc., formally registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Tony Podesta, brother of Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman John Podesta, heads the Podesta Group. That came after a tumultuous week in which The New York Times revealed that Manafort's name appeared in the Ukraine ledger - although the newspaper said at the time that officials were unsure whether Manafort actually received the money - and after The Associated Press separately reported that he had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation until 2014 on behalf of Ukraine's pro-Russian Party of Regions. Then, in November, the firm secured a $9.5 million loan from the Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, founded and chaired by Stephen M. Calk, a senior economic adviser to Trump during his campaign.

On Tuesday, Manafort called the invoice a fraud. Before, Manafort had been able to keep much of that information out of public view. "Once again, smear and innuendo are being used to paint a false picture".

"There is absolutely nothing improper with this method of payment and there is no basis to give any credibility to the current Leshchenko allegations to the contrary", Maloni said.

The transactions also shed light on the real estate portfolio that Manafort acquired during and after the years he worked in Ukraine. The Ukrainian investigators recovered handwritten papers, also known as the "black ledger", from the office of former ruling party.

  • Salvatore Jensen