A business partner of Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty Friday to two criminal charges brought by Robert Mueller’s Special Counsels Office investigation.
Rick Gates was Manafort’s former business partner in a firm that lobbied on behalf of pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. Yanukovich was forced to flee to Russia after being ousted from power in 2014, but the Ukrainians had paid a significant amount of money to the paid lobbyists. Gates, who had been negotiating with Mueller’s office for over a month, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit to defraud the United States and making a false statement at a federal Washington D.C. courthouse Friday afternoon, according to the indictment and reports.
Gates had originally pleaded not guilty last fall but took the plea agreement with the special counsel due to the enormous strain the trial has caused his family and for financial reasons, a source familiar with Gates told this reporter.
“It has nothing to do with the White House or the 2016 presidential campaign”
The 25-page indictment says Gates and Manafort “funneled millions of dollars in payments into foreign nominee companies and bank accounts, opened by them and their accomplices in nominee names and in various foreign countries, including Cyprus, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Seychelles.”
“Manafort and Gates hid the existence of the foreign companies and bank accounts, falsely and repeatedly reporting to their tax prepares and to the United States that they had no foreign bank accounts,” according to the indictment.
White House officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
“It has nothing to do with the White House or the 2016 presidential campaign,” said an official with direct knowledge of the case.
Gate’s plea follows the new indictment on Manafort issued by the counsel’s office Thursday evening. Today’s indictment charges.
“It is expected to be one charge against Gates,” said the government official familiar with the case. “He got the best deal he could considering the strain this has been on his family and his own financial situation.”
The guilty plea follows a new indictment against Manafort and Gates issued Thursday evening by the special counsel. The indictment contains 32 counts, of which 16 counts are related to filing “false individual income tax returns,” according to the court documents. It also includes “seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy and four counts of bank fraud,” according to the special counsel’s website.
In Thursday’s indictment, both Manafort and Gates are being charged with laundering $30 million millions of dollars from overseas when they lobbied on behalf of the Ukraine. The pair ended their work for Ukraine in 2014.
“More than $75,000,000 flowed through the offshore accounts. MANAFORT, with the assistance of GATES, laundered more than $30,000,000, income that he concealed from the United States Department of the Treasury (Treasury), the Department of Justice, and others,” Thursday’s indictment states.