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NBC News: DOJ Says Ex-Manafort Associate Is Linked to Russian Mobsters

Image: NBC News: DOJ Says Ex-Manafort Associate Is Linked to Russian Mobsters
Paul Manafort (AP)

Wednesday, 26 Jul 2017 09:44 PM

The U.S. Justice Department says a former business associate of former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is an "upper-echelon [associate] of Russian organized crime," NBC News reports.

According to NBC, a 115-page filing in a bribery case against Dmytro Firtash revealed the Ukrainian oligarch's ties to Manafort. The two reportedly were involved in an unsuccessful attempt to buy New York's Drake Hotel, and Firtash was an important member of the Ukrainian political party that once employed Manafort.

Firtash is charged with participating in a scheme to bribe Indian officials to get a mining deal to sell titanium to Boeing. But the case does not involve Manafort, and none of the men's business activities have been linked to any crimes.

The court records show that Manafort's company worked in 2008 to redevelop the Drake Hotel for $850 million, of which Firtash's firm intended to contribute more than $100 million. Another one of the partners in the deal was Brad Zackson, who was once the exclusive broker for President Donald Trump's father's company, Fred Trump properties.

That same year, Firtash told U.S. Ambassador William Taylor he was able to get started in the business with the blessing of Russian organized crime boss Semion Mogilevech, though he insisted he had to make such deals to do business.

Firtash also was a supporter of Ukraine's pro-Russian Party of Regions, from which Manafort's company was paid $17 million. A leaked cable posted by WikiLeaks showed Manafort was hired to give the party and "extreme makeover" to "change its image from... a haven for mobsters into that of a legitimate political party."

Manafort denied any business relationship with Firtash, telling NBC, "There was one occasion where an opportunity was explored. ... Nothing transpired and no business relationship was ever implemented."

Firtash's attorney, Dan Webb, told NBC that although the filing says Firtash is connected to Russian organized crime and made bribe payments intended for people in the United States, the actual indictment does not.

There is "no evidence" for such claims, Webb said, adding that is why the government did not include them in the indictment.

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The U.S. Justice Department says a former business associate of former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is an "upper-echelon [associate] of Russian organized crime," NBC News reports.
nbc, justice, department, manafort, russia, mob
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2017-44-26
Wednesday, 26 Jul 2017 09:44 PM
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