World

Manafort used 'hidden wealth' for lavish lifestyle

Former Trump campaign adviser owned cars, homes and spent millions on clothes

WASHINGTON Paul Manafort, the indicted former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, spent almost US$1 million (S$1.36 million) on eight rugs in two years and more than US$1.3 million on clothes from shops in Beverly Hills, California, and New York City.

His lavish lifestyle - with homes in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Hamptons, Arlington, Virginia and elsewhere - were detailed in an indictment filed with the US District Court for the District of Columbia that was revealed on Monday.

The indictment filed by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller said Manafort "used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States".

Prosecutors said they found payments by Manafort for four Range Rovers and a Mercedes-Benz among transactions that they alleged came illegally from overseas to avoid paying US income taxes, according to the 31-page court filing.

Prosecutors said they found evidence he bought a condo in a restored red-brick building in New York's upscale Soho neighbourhood for US$2.85 million, also from overseas money, mostly from Cyprus.

Manafort and associate Rick Gates pleaded not guilty on Monday to money laundering and other charges filed in a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Mr Greg Andres, a federal prosecutor on Mr Mueller's team, said his office had a "difficult time" trying to pin down Manafort's and Gates' net worths, making it hard to set appropriate bail arrangements.

Mr Andres said Manafort listed a range of net asset values on loans and other financial documents, from as low as US$20 million to as high as US$100 million. Gates, meanwhile, listed assets as low as $US2 million and as high as $US30 million.

A federal judge ordered house arrest for both men, and set a US$10 million unsecured bond for Manafort and a US$5 million unsecured bond for Gates.

Manafort's attorney Kevin Downing said on Monday there was no evidence that his client colluded with the Russian government while working for the Trump campaign. Neither Mr Trump nor his campaign was mentioned in the indictment.

The indictment said Manafort spent US$849,215 in a men's clothing store in New York and US$520,440 at one in Beverly Hills.

He spent US$5,434,793 on a house in Water Mill, New York, in Long Island's Hamptons, shelling out US$820,240 for landscaping alone. Aerial photos of the house show gardens, a pool, a tennis court, a basketball court and a putting green and sand trap. - REUTERS

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