Recent witness tampering allegations against Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager accused of money laundering in Cyprus among others, are linked to new charges against a political operative with alleged ties to Russian spies.
The indictment, filed on Friday by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, included new counts against Manafort and the operative, Manafort aide Konstantin Kilimnik, for tampering with witnesses about their lobbying for Ukraine.
Mueller asked a federal judge last week to put Manafort behind bars on the allegation he violated his bail terms by attempting to get witnesses to lie for him in court.
In November 2017, US investigators were asking the Central Bank of Cyprus a series of questions, looking into a flow of money through Cyprus, in connection with Manafort
Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, as well as bank and tax fraud, was indicted last October.
In November 2017, US investigators were asking the Central Bank of Cyprus a series of questions, looking into a flow of money through Cyprus, in connection with Manafort.
But Friday’s indictment marked the first time that Kilimnik, who in previous court filings was mentioned as “Person A”, was named, with Mueller alleging Kilimnik has links to Russian intelligence.
According to the latest indictment documents, Manafort attempted to call, send texts and encrypted messages back in February to two people from “The Hapsburg Group,” a political discussion network that he used to promote Ukraine’s interests, in an effort to influence their testimony or conceal evidence in the case.
The former Trump campaign manager’s attorneys say the texts their client had sent did not amount to any wrongdoing and were not long enough to constitute what was being alleged.
US officials suspect Kilimnik-Deripaska link
But US officials say Kilimnik’s reported trips to the US in 2016 during Trump’s campaign had “attracted attention” by alleging that Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska was offered private briefings.
Deripaska, who is among several notable recipients of Republic of Cyprus passports, is a super wealthy industrialist who overcame a number of red flags in his Cypriot naturalisation process.
Despite a number of issues including concerns over allegations that Deripaska served as a back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, the Cypriot government approved the application in 2017 and insists that it is conducting proper checks before cases are adjudicated.
Cyprus, the biggest European investor in Russia, has been taking heat in recent years from other countries, primarily EU member states, who say the island is abusing its own passport programme where wealthy foreign nationals, including Russians, essentially buy Cypriot passports.