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United States

Ex-Trump aide Paul Manafort is sued by Russian billionaire in wake of Mueller’s Russia probe

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 January, 2018, 4:26am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 February, 2018, 4:09am

US President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is being sued by a company tied to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who claims he was defrauded after investing US$18.9 million in a Ukrainian cable television venture known collectively as the “Black Sea Cable.”

The suit, filed on Wednesday in New York state court by Deripaska’s Surf Horizon Ltd, claims Manafort and his former associate, Rick Gates, used the investment as “their personal piggy banks,” moving funds in and out “without any apparent business reason.”

Deripaska is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Manafort and Gates are already under criminal indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has accused them of failing to register as foreign agents, conspiring to commit money laundering and conspiring to defraud the United States.

The new fraud case relies in part on those allegations, which were made by Mueller on October 27 as part of his ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

According to the lawsuit, Manafort and Gates had testified under oath in 2015 that they did not know whether Surf Horizon still owned any stock in Black Sea Cable, even though Surf claims it had paid one of their affiliated companies US$7.35 million in management fees.

It also says Manafort and Gates swore they did not know what happened to more than US$26 million that had gone missing from the investment.

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In May 2017, however, one of Surf’s affiliates, known as Adoptol Limited, brought legal proceedings in Cyprus and unearthed new documents, according to the suit.

They showed Manafort and Gates had “siphoned off for themselves millions of dollars” from Surf’s investment, the lawsuit said.

Lawyers for Manafort and Gates could not immediately be reached for comment.

Wednesday’s lawsuit marks the second time now that the Deripaska-linked company has sued the pair along with Pericles Emerging Market Partners, an investment management firm controlled by Manafort and Gates.

In August 2015, the company also filed a parallel case in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, seeking documents and depositions in connection with the alleged missing money.

Deripaska previously sued in courts in Virginia and the Cayman Islands in cases that are no longer pending.