Mueller ups Manafort indictment to include mortgage fraud

Special counsel alleges former Trump campaign chairman falsified loan applications to pull more money out of New York properties

From left: 377 Union Street, Paul Manafort and 29 Howard Street (Credit: Google Maps and Getty Images)
From left: 377 Union Street, Paul Manafort and 29 Howard Street (Credit: Google Maps and Getty Images)

Updated: Feb. 22, @ 6:44 p.m.: Special counsel Robert Mueller filed a superseding indictment of Paul Manafort on Thursday, including new charges that Manafort and business partner Rick Gates lied to several lenders in order to obtain mortgages for properties in New York City and Long Island.

The 32-count indictment repeats previous charges of money laundering and tax evasion, in addition to the bank fraud counts.

Manafort did consulting work for the pro-Russian Ukrainian political party the Party of Regions and other related clients between 2006 and 2015, according to the indictment. But as income from that gig began to dry up in 2014, Manafort started applying for loans to keep up his cash flow, and to obtain those loans Manafort lied to lenders about his company’s income, his other debts and his intended use for the new funds, prosecutors allege.

Many of the allegations in the new counts of bank fraud are described in the original indictment. For example, at his 377 Union Street townhouse in Cobble Hill, Manafort borrowed $5 million, of which $1.4 million was supposed to have been used toward renovations. But Manafort told his accountant, according to the indictment, that he intended to use the loan to pay off other debts — a violation of the loan terms. He also allegedly lied about how much of his income was from foreign sources when applying for the loan.

At a condo on Howard Street in Manhattan, Manafort applied for a $3.4 million loan from another lender. In order to borrow a greater amount, he misrepresented that his daughter and son-in-law planned to live in the home for at least some time, according to prosecutors.

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The indictment also refers to a “conspirator” working for the Howard Street lender who recognized that Gates and Manafort were making misrepresentations on their loan application, commenting “Looks Dr’d. Can’t someone just do a clean excel doc and pdf to me?” Public loan records suggest this lender is Citizens Bank. A representative for the bank declined to comment.

The new indictment also more closely details the methods through which Manafort and Gates would have evaded taxes. In the case of the Howard Street condo purchase, Manafort allegedly disguised $1.5 million from one of his Cypriot accounts as a loan in order to avoid income tax.

In total, Manafort is alleged to have disguised more than $13 million in funds from Cyprus as loans and to have laundered more than $30 million in total income from overseas.

Further bank fraud charges in the indictment implicate loan misrepresentations at Manafort’s Bridgehampton home on Long Island.

Updated: This story has been updated to include details about a possible “conspirator” on Manafort and Gates’ Howard Street loan application.