The state of New York has opened a probe of the real estate deals of Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for President Donald Trump. This adds increased scrutiny to a fledgling administration being forced to put out fires on a number of fronts.
According to Bloomberg News, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is leading the inquiry, now in its early stages. According to records, Manafort, who ran Trump’s campaign from April to August, has owned property in the Hamptons and Trump Tower in Manhattan. As attorney general, Schneiderman is responsible for enforcing New York’s securities laws under the Martin Act, which gives him broad powers to pursue white-collar crime. However, spokesman Jason Maloni hit back at leaks of the latest investigation.
“If someone’s leaking information about an investigation, that’s a crime.”
On May 16, Manafort received a subpoena for a $3.5 million mortgage that he took out on a Bridgehampton home, according to several news reports. He took out the mortgage shortly after leaving the campaign. A spokesperson claims that the loan was taken out as a bridge loan and that it was repaid in December. Manafort’s real estate attorney, Bruce Baldinger, told NBC that the mortgage notice was sent in for recording.
“It was returned by the county recording clerk ‘due to deficiencies in accompanying documents.’”
According to NBC News, Manafort did not file a document detailing how he would pay back the multi-million dollar loan, and did not pay roughly $36,000 in taxes on it. According to real estate experts, the omission was “highly unusual” and “totally ill-advised,” but not illegal. According to Maloni, Manafort repaid the loan, which he took out through a shell company, in late November or early December.
“Mr. Manafort has not been contacted by any authorities other than the United States Congress and officials responsible for FARA guidance, and he is cooperating with those inquiries.”
Manafort’s finances have drawn increased attention in recent months. The Treasury Department in March acquired details of his overseas financial transactions as part of a federal anti-corruption investigation.
In August, Manafort left the Trump campaign after he was accused by the Ukrainian government’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau of receiving $12.7 million in off-the-book payments from the country’s former President Viktor Yanukovych — an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Manafort also is under investigation in Congress and by the FBI as they look into how Russia allegedly worked to influence the U.S. election and whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Russian agents.