18 Aug. — The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) published a clarification regarding the mention of the name Paul Manafort—campaign chief for US presidential candidate Donald Trump—on the Party of Regions so-called black ledger. Manafort himself issued a statement earlier in which he called the accusations of secretly accepting cash payments when he was working in Ukraine “unfounded, silly and nonsensical.”
This is far from the first time that Paul Manafort, an American political consultant working in a number of countries, has been the target of attacks. The American and European press have previously accused him of essentially having worked with former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich. This new wave of exposés, which began with an article in the New York Times, purports to show “how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.”
The journalists relied on the Party of Regions black ledger, a handwritten book recording the expenses of formerly leading political party in Ukraine. Paul Manafort is mentioned 22 times in the ledger between 2007 and 2012. The records say that the party paid him $12.7m to improve its image.
There are, however, significantly more serious suspicions regarding the political consultant. The newspaper made the assumption that insofar as the entire upper stratum of the former power structure is considered to have been corrupt, then Paul Manafort either encouraged corruption or was himself involved in criminal schemes. The article also talks about his links with a network of offshore companies and Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska.
Manafort categorically denied receiving any cash or carrying out any sort of work for the governments of Russia or Ukraine.
This did not stop the journalists. On 17 August an article appeared on the website of The Times about how Manafort might be indirectly responsible for loss of the Crimea to Russia. According to the British newspaper’s information, it was namely he who had facilitated the growth of pro-Russian and anti-NATO sentiments on the peninsula as well as improved Yanukovich’s reputation by means of “confrontation and division in society on ethnic and linguistic grounds.”
On the next day, the Associated Press agency published an article accusing the political consultant of secretly lobbying for the interests of the former Ukrainian authorities in the USA. (Such an activity would have to have been declared, according to the law.)
On the same day, NABU came out with an official clarification. The bureau confirmed that Manafort’s name is indeed found in the Party of Regions black ledger, but with a caveat. “We emphasise that the presence of the name P. Manafort in the ledger does not mean that he ever actually received these funds” it says in the statement.
On 19 August, Paul Manafort quit as Donald Trump’s campaign chief.