Paul Manafort; President Trump’s former campaign chairman, is alleged to have laundered money earned through his business activities in Ukraine through a number of tax havens, amongst them Cyprus.
Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates, have been indicted by the District Court of Columbia for hiding millions of dollars between the period 2006-2016 through shell companies and foreign bank accounts in Cyprus, Seychelles, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In all, the indictment says, $75 million flowed through these accounts, and they funded Manafort and Gates’s lifestyles in the U.S. The indictment emerged from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The New York Times says that financial records filed last year in Cyprus, where Paul Manafort kept bank accounts during his years working in Ukraine and investing with a Russian oligarch, indicate that he had been in debt to pro-Russia interests by as much as $17 million before he joined Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016.
The money appears to have been owed by shell companies connected to Mr. Manafort’s business activities in Ukraine, when he worked as a consultant to the pro-Russia Party of Regions.
The Cyprus documents obtained by The New York Times include audited financial statements for the companies, which were part of a complex web of more than a dozen entities that transferred millions of dollars among them in the form of loans, payments and fees.
The Cyprus documents offer a detailed view into the murky financial world inhabited by Mr. Manafort in the years before he joined the Trump campaign, says the Times.
The paper notes that Oxfam included Cyprus in its list of the “world’s worst corporate tax havens.”
The Tax Justice Network’s financial-secrecy index pointed out that Cyprus does not “require that company ownership details are publicly available online” or that “company accounts be available on public record.”
This makes Cyprus an attractive destination for those who want to conceal their identities, and even the fact that a given company exists at all.
Cyprus’s laws also don’t require companies on its territory, to tell Cypriot tax authorities about payments to non-Cypriots, says the New York Times.