Thu | Sep 21, 2017

US probe of ex-Trump aide extends to Cyprus

Published:Friday | March 24, 2017 | 3:00 AM

Probe of ex-Trump aide extends to Cyprus

WASHINGTON (AP):

The United States govern-ment investigation of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, crossed the Atlantic earlier this year to the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, once known as a haven for money laundering by Russian billionaires.

Treasury agents in recent months obtained information connected to Manafort's transactions from Cypriot authorities, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorised to speak publicly. The request was part of a federal anti-corruption probe into Manafort's work in Eastern Europe. The Cyprus attorney general, one of the country's top law enforcement officers, was also aware of the American request.

LEADING FOCUS

Manafort was Trump's unpaid campaign chairman from March until August last year, during the critical run-up to the Republican National Convention. He's been a leading focus of the US investigation into whether Trump associates coordinated with Moscow to meddle in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Manafort, in a statement to the AP yesterday when asked about the Cyprus transactions, characterised them as a normal practice. "Like many companies doing business internationally, my company was paid via wire transfer, typically using clients' preferred financial institutions and instructions," he said.

Federal prosecutors became interested in Manafort's activities years ago as part of a broad investigation to recover stolen Ukrainian assets after the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych there in early 2014. No US criminal charges have been filed in the case.