Federal investigators want to seize a Carroll Gardens brownstone and a SoHo condo they claim President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, purchased to launder money, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.
Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates, allegedly earned tens of millions of dollars lobbying on behalf of the Ukrainian government between 2006 and 2015 without disclosing their work or earnings stashed away in offshore accounts, the indictment said.
In all, the charges filed by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller claim Manafort laundered $18 million through various goods and services, including purchasing unit 4D at 29 Howard St. in SoHo and 377 Union St. in Carroll Gardens in 2012, according to the indictment.
Manafort allegedly purchased both properties through limited liability corporations he and his family controlled with money previously kept in Cyprus. The complaint states he paid $2.85 million for the Manhattan condo and $3 million for the Brooklyn brownstone.
Beyond not paying taxes on the lobbying earnings, the indictment alleges Manafort misled banks so he could take out larger loans on the properties.
In early 2016, he received a $3.19 million loan on the SoHo property while claiming his daughter and son-in-law would use the condo as a secondary home, the indictment said. But around that time, Manafort rented the property out for thousands of dollars a week on Airbnb, “among other places,” according to the indictment.
Manafort also received a $5 million “construction loan” on his Brooklyn building in early 2016, which allowed him to access more money than he otherwise could have, according to the indictment
But he allegedly put hundreds of thousands of this toward a down payment on another property. And before he received the loan, he wrote to his tax preparer and others that the loan “will allow me to pay back the [another Manafort apartment] mortgage in full,” the indictment said.
Several neighbors near Manafort’s Brooklyn brownstone said the property had been a mess over the last year, and they were pleased to see construction work get underway about two months ago. Workers were seen going in and out of the four-story home Monday.
“It was terrible. It looked abandoned,” said Linda Laviolette, who lives a few doors down from 377 Union St. “Then about six weeks ago they put it into high gear. They brought everything in and took everything out. . . . The only money that’s actually been put into it has been the last two months.”
Lauren Gray, 31, said the construction had been on the messy side, but she did not think people would have been so put off if someone other than Manafort owned the property.
“It’s suspiciously no longer a mess,” Gray said. “It just seems like he has bigger problems right now.”
Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to the charges.
If convicted, the government is requesting that the court force Manafort to forfeit both of his New York City properties, among others.
With Alison Fox and Reuters