(NEWSWEEK) – Paul Manafort has been the subject of an FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election for months because of suspected ties to pro-Russian entities.
But another focus of the probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is a series of suspicious wire transfers, made by companies linked to him, into the U.S., BuzzFeed News reported on Sunday, citing federal law enforcement officials and a former Treasury official who worked on the matter.
Offshore companies tied to Manafort moved over $3 million around the world between 2012 and 2013 and U.S. authorities took notice, scrutinizing the source, motive and destination of the payments.
Some of the transactions came from two prime money-laundering destinations: Cyprus and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Lucicle Consultants, based in Cyprus and which has links to Manafort, the sources told BuzzFeed—transferred as much as $2.5 million, including some to Manafort’s accounts.
But the news site could not find any contact information for the business or any information about the individuals that work there. There was also evidence of “layering” in the transactions, a money-laundering technique to shield payments of unaccounted and unexplained funds by using multiple companies.
Two of the payments show that Manafort’s offshore company sent $53,000 to a Kiev-based political operative Konstantin Kilimnik. He studied at a military school that is suspected of being a hub of Russian intelligence activity and a training base for Russian spies. He helped Manafort run the Ukraine office of his international political consultancy and is the man who asked Manafort to provide “private briefings” to a Russian billionaire during Trump’s election campaign.
Four of the payments linked to Manafort and being investigated came from Global Endeavor, Manafort’s political consulting company in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Yanukovych hired the firm to lobby for him.
Some of the suspicious transfers included as much as $750,000 sent out of Ukraine in the months when Yanukovych was on the brink of being removed as the country’s leader. No reason for the money’s movement was disclosed, according to the report, which has disclosed the payments for the first time.
The payments have not indicated any wrongdoing as yet but suspicions among officials were so strong that they worked on and created “intelligence reports” about Manafort’s financial activity.