From intern to indictment, Gates’ ties to Manafort lengthy
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.
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.