US signals interest in sending FBI agents to Cyprus to probe Manafort case

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By Stelios Orphanides

US authorities have informally told Cyprus they are interested in sending officials to the island to conduct investigations into Paul Manafort’s case as part of a third request for legal assistance, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The authorities have signalled their interest in sending officials to Cyprus to interview implicated persons, including lawyers and bankers, a police source said on condition of anonymity in a telephone interview.

So far, the source said, the US has not officially declared its interest in participating with observers in the investigation in Cyprus, which would be the third request for legal assistance.

“They don’t have the authority to interrogate,” the source said.

A separate source at the Ministry of Justice and Public Order corroborated the police source’s account.

Manafort, the former chairman of US President Donald Trump’s campaign, stepped down in August last year after it emerged that he had lobbied on behalf of Russian oligarchs in the past. He was charged with money laundering, tax evasion and operating as an unregistered foreign agent on Monday, together with his aide Richard Gates. They both deny any wrongdoing.

According to the indictment published on Monday, Manafort and Gates owned and controlled a number of companies in Cyprus through which they laundered revenues from work they did for Ukraine’s ousted ruler Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.

Manafort had his home raided by officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the night hours of July 26, a day before the FBI arrested George Papadopoulos at an airport as part of an investigation into probable ties of the Trump campaign with Russia.

On Monday, it emerged that on October 5, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty after he was charged with lying to authorities about the time he had established contact with Russian agents.

The former Trump advisor, who according to press reports was in possession of three US passports, maintained bank accounts at Cyprus Popular Bank, as the defunct Laiki was also known until 2013. Laiki closed most of them the year before.

A bank of Cyprus source said in August that remaining accounts at Bank of Cyprus were shut as part of the bank’s anti-money laundering procedures.

According to a list of bank wires included in the indictment, the last time Manafort had funds transferred from an account in Cyprus was March 12, 2013, four days before the prolonged bank holiday of the banking crisis of that month. The wire in question involved the transfer of $375,000 (€322,000) to a home improvement company in the US from an account held by Lucicle Consultants Ltd.

On Friday, Bank of Cyprus declined to confirm or deny whether Manafort was among the Laiki depositors who lost all their uninsured deposits, i.e. in excess of €100,000, when the bank was declared insolvent days later and had its operations absorbed by Bank of Cyprus.

According to the indictment, Manafort had $18 million wired from accounts in Cyprus to various vendors in the US.

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About Author

Stelios Orphanides is a journalist at CyprusBusinessMail.com. To contact Stelios Orphanides: [email protected]

  • AnalogMind

    Sure, that’s a plus for the Cypriot GDP. Send a lot of agents please. How about a thousand agents. It’s nice this time of year in Cyprus and the Bureau needs to unwind a little.

    • Cyprus

      And dont forget to let the agents bring there families along with them.

      • AnalogMind

        Of course, plus immediate relatives because it helps the agents concentrate. 🙂 Nothing like a mother in law that makes stay long hours at the office.

        • SuzieQ

          You sound like my son-in-law! 😉

          • AnalogMind

            In that case, I will be spending the rest of the night at the office. Anywhere but home.

    • Barry White

      Good idea. A thousand FBI Agents and give them 3 eviction orders each for NPL primary residences while they are in town. That would be 3,000.- FBI dynamic actions and the NPL problem on its way to be solved.

  • Alexander Reuterswärd

    I would love to know what a third party could find with access to lawyers and bank accounts, surely no money laundering the last few years..

  • Jeremy Rigg

    They will never be allowed in. They would uncover far too much material on certain high ranking people that it would probably bring the government down.

  • GSP

    Yet another case of someone moving large amounts of money out of Cyprus just before the haircut. Was it coincidence?
    We are told that his last transaction was the day before, but that he had at one time 18 million dollars. No mention of how much was still there at the crash.