From in­tern to in­dict­ment, Gates’ ties to Manafort lengthy

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - EILEEN SUL­LI­VAN

WASH­ING­TON — Rick Gates fol­lowed Paul Manafort to eastern Europe, Africa, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and, on Mon­day, a fed­eral build­ing where he sur­ren­dered to the FBI.

Gates, 45, is a for­mer busi­ness as­so­ciate of Manafort, the ousted chair­man of Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign who also turned him­self in to the FBI on Mon­day. The men are charged with money laun­der­ing and vi­o­la­tions of tax and for­eign lob­by­ing laws.

Manafort has been charged with laun­der­ing more than $18 mil­lion to buy prop­er­ties and ser­vices. Gates has been ac­cused of trans­fer­ring more than $3 mil­lion from off­shore ac­counts. Both men are charged with mak­ing false state­ments.

The in­dict­ments are the first in the long-run­ning in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Trump’s as­so­ci­ates and pos­si­ble ties to Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion.

A pro­tege of Manafort, Gates sur­vived the Manafort ex­o­dus from the cam­paign and went on to have a cen­tral role in Trump’s in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tee and a lob­by­ing group that was formed to ad­vance the pres­i­dent’s agenda. Gates was forced out of that lob­by­ing group in April amid ques­tions about Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“As part of the scheme, Manafort and Gates re­peat­edly pro­vided false in­for­ma­tion to fi­nan­cial book­keep­ers, tax ac­coun­tants and le­gal coun­sel, among oth­ers,” the in­dict­ment said.

At­tempts to reach Gates on Mon­day were un­suc­cess­ful.

If con­victed of money laun­der­ing, the most se­ri­ous charge, Gates and Manafort could face up to 20 years in prison.

Manafort had been un­der fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion on sus­pi­cion of vi­o­lat­ing tax law, laun­der­ing money and whether he ap­pro­pri­ately dis­closed his for­eign lob­by­ing work. As Manafort’s busi­ness as­so­ciate, Gates’ name is listed on doc­u­ments that are linked to com­pa­nies Manafort’s firm es­tab­lished in Cyprus for pay­ments from politi­cians and busi­ness­men in Eastern Europe, ac­cord­ing to records re­viewed by The New York Times.

When the busi­ness part­ners worked in Ukraine, Gates flew to Moscow for meet­ings with as­so­ci­ates of a Rus­sian oli­garch, Oleg Deri­paska.

Gates and Manafort met years ago when Gates was in­tern­ing at Manafort’s Wash­ing­ton con­sult­ing firm — Black, Manafort, Stone, Kelly. The firm was known for run­ning Repub­li­can po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns and then lob­by­ing the politi­cians af­ter they won their elec­tions.

In Wash­ing­ton, Manafort was known for rep­re­sent­ing dic­ta­tors and strong­men, such as Fer­di­nand Mar­cos of the Philip­pines. Manafort also rep­re­sented the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion to lobby the Trea­sury De­part­ment re­gard­ing casino trans­ac­tion rules.

Gates would later fol­low Manafort to a new firm, Davis Manafort, which worked on the cam­paign of Vik­tor Yanukovych, the pro-Rus­sia for­mer Ukrainian pres­i­dent. This work con­nected the men with Deri­paska, an alu­minum mag­nate and ally of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin of Rus­sia. Deri­paska has been de­nied a visa to travel to the United States be­cause of al­le­ga­tions that he is linked to or­ga­nized crime op­er­a­tions — charges Deri­paska has de­nied.

In 2008, Gates took over the firm’s du­ties in Eastern Europe, where he worked on busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions.

And this work could be lu­cra­tive. Manafort was a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire with va­ca­tion homes in Palm Beach, Fla., and the Hamp­tons.

Davis Manafort used shell com­pa­nies to process pay­ments for its po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties. Gates was one of the em­ploy­ees who worked with the Cypriot law firm that reg­is­tered th­ese com­pa­nies, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments re­viewed by The Times.

Rus­sian oli­garchs and busi­nesses have been us­ing Cyprus as a tax haven for years. Gates has said he was told that the firm’s clients in­structed Davis Manafort to use ac­counts in Cyprus for money trans­fers.

The spe­cial coun­sel, Robert Mueller, said Gates used money from some of th­ese off­shore bank ac­counts to pay for his mort­gage, the tu­ition for his chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion and dec­o­rat­ing his home.

Ac­cord­ing to pub­lic records, Gates lives in Rich­mond, Va.

In early 2014, Yanukovych was ousted from power, and Manafort and Gates be­gan to look for new po­lit­i­cal clients. The client search ul­ti­mately led them to the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial pri­mary race in the United States.

Gates fol­lowed Manafort to the Trump cam­paign in the spring of 2016. Gates man­aged many of the cam­paign’s daily op­er­a­tions and of­ten trav­eled with Trump and oth­ers work­ing on the cam­paign.

Af­ter the elec­tion, Gates went on to help run Trump’s in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tee and later a lob­by­ing group that raised money to ad­vance Trump’s agenda.

But fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­mained in­ter­ested in the work Gates did with Manafort.

Mueller said that the men made tens of mil­lions of dol­lars as a re­sult of their work in Ukraine, and that they worked to hide the pay­ments for about a decade.

The two men “laun­dered the money through scores of United States and for­eign cor­po­ra­tions, part­ner­ships and bank ac­counts,” the in­dict­ment read.

AP/SU­SAN WALSH

Rick Gates (right) leaves fed­eral court in Wash­ing­ton on Mon­day. Gates is a for­mer busi­ness as­so­ciate of Paul Manafort, the for­mer chair­man of Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign who also pleaded in­no­cent Mon­day to felony charges of con­spir­acy against the United States.

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