The Associated Press has been investigating a case involving Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. As the investigation has progressed, officials believe they may have found a money trail coming from oligarchs associated with Putin and leading into the President’s inner circle.
U.S. Treasury agents have recently collected information on Manafort’s transactions from the authorities. A source who was familiar with the situation stated that the information was given as part of a federal anticorruption probe in order to investigate the work Manafort had been doing in Eastern Europe.
All of this information proceeds a report released earlier this month discussing Manafort’s collaboration with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who has very close ties to Putin. Manafort apparently did secret work for him in an effort to advance Putin’s interests several years before joining the Trump campaign. Although Manafort does not deny working with Deripaska, he claims that he only served him in personal and business matters.
The Associated Press has also revealed that they were able to trace some of the money Manafort was paid to do work for Deripaska back to the Bank of Cyprus. U.S. officials will be conducting an investigation into the millions of dollars worth of wire transfers sent to him. Most notably, a company linked to Manafort reportedly received a payment of $1 million from an unknown source, and the payment was sent through the Bank of Cyprus.
Suspiciously, the largest shareholders in the Bank of Cyprus are well-known associates of Putin. Even more strange is the fact that one shareholder, Dmitry Rybolovlev, also has close ties to President Trump. He reportedly conducted a real estate deal with the President in 2008, purchasing one of his properties in Florida.
Also linked to Trump is Wilbur Ross, who now serves as the U.S. Commerce Secretary. He was named a member of the Bank of Cyprus’ board of directors in 2014. He was serving as vice chairman of the board when appointed by Trump and the bank’s website still indicates that he is serving that position.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said that Trump knew nothing about Manafort’s ties to Putin or his financial affiliations with the Bank of Cyprus, but federal investigators continue to find ties between Trump and associates of Putin. It’s only a matter of time before the true reason for their relationship is revealed.