News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Tues. Oct. 31, 2017: The Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines received some unwelcome spotlight Monday as Paul Manafort, Jr., Donald Trump’s former election campaign chair, and his business partner Richard Gates, III, pleaded not guilty to laundering millions in funds from overseas work, including into accounts on shell companies in the Caribbean island.
According to the charged revealed in an indictment filed by special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, Friday and unsealed Monday, Manafort, 68, and Gates, 45, funneled millions of dollars in payments earned as lobbyists and political consultants including in the Ukraine into foreign nominee companies and bank accounts, including allegedly in a shell company set up on Saint Vincent & the Grenadines without paying taxes or registering as a foreign lobbyist.
The indictment says Manafort and Gates hid the existence of the foreign companies and bank accounts, falsely and repeatedly reporting to their tax preparers and to the United States that they had no foreign bank accounts when they did via nominee names in various foreign countries, including Saint Vincent.
At least 11 of the wire transfers originated with Manafort’s company Global Endeavour, a political consulting firm based in the Grenadines to the tune of over USD 800,000.
Manafort and Gates both surrendered to federal authorities in Washington, D.C., Monday morning after a grand jury approved charges brought by Mueller on Friday. The indictment, which names both men as defendants, contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agents Registration Act statements, false statements and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, called the money laundering charges “ridiculous” and noted that in the past half-century, prosecutors have only charged a handful of people with flouting foreign lobbying rules. Such violations are normally handled as an administrative matter.