Trump’s ex-campaign chief Manafort offers US$12 million to avoid house arrest
Prosecutors have argued there is was a risk Manafort would flee abroad
US President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort offered to post US$12 million in real estate and life insurance assets and to limit his travel in a bid to avoid continued house arrest, according to court documents.
Manafort, who ran Trump’s presidential campaign for several months last year, and associate Richard Gates last week pleaded not guilty to a 12-count indictment by a federal grand jury.
The charges included conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against the United States and failing to register as foreign agents of Ukraine’s former pro-Russia government.
In the Saturday court filing, Manafort offered to limit his travel to New York, Washington and Florida.
US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson had said on Thursday initial bail terms would remain in place and set a bail hearing for Monday to consider changes. On Friday, she suggested a potential May 7 trial date.
Manafort and Gates were under house arrest, under unsecured bonds of $10 million and $5 million, respectively, which means they do not have to post the bail unless they fail to show up for court or violate other conditions.
Prosecutors have argued there is a risk the men would flee and they are subject to electronic monitoring.
The charges include conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against the United States and failing to register as foreign agents of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government. They are part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged Russian efforts to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favour and into potential collusion by Trump associates.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment on Saturday.
Manafort in the filing also explained why he had three passports, a fact noted by prosecutors. Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, rejected suggestions that Manafort was a “Jason Bourne character” – referencing a fictitious, globe-trotting rogue covert agent.
“The facts are much more mundane,” Downing wrote.
Rather, Manafort had two passports, including one for submitting to foreign governments to receive visas while travelling on the other, his lawyers said. A third passport was issued because he had lost one and contacted passport services to advise them he had found it.
Downing also wrote that funds Manafort had deposited in Cyprus accounts were legal.
Federal prosecutors said in a court filing on Tuesday that Manafort’s financial assets were substantial, but difficult to quantify because he listed figures on loan applications and other financial documents since 2012 that ranged from $19 million to $136 million.
The investigation has cast a shadow over the first nine months of the Trump presidency. For Manafort and Gates, a conviction on conspiracy to launder money alone could carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.