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Trump’s ex-aide Manafort faces up to 24 years in jail

By IANS Updated: Feb 16, 2019 10:07 pm

Washington, Feb. 16 (IANS): US President Donald Trump’s former election campaign manager Paul Manafort should be jailed for up to 24 years, special counsel Robert Mueller has said.

Mueller’s team said in a court filing on Friday Manafort should face a prison term between 19 and a half and 24 and a half years, for “serious, longstanding, and bold” financial crimes, CNN reported.

“Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars,” the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 elections wrote in the memo to Judge T.S. Ellis III.

“The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes,” it stated.

Manafort was convicted in August of financial fraud and charges relating to his work as a political consultant in Ukraine. He was found to have hidden more than $16 million in income from US authorities, which allowed him to avoid paying $6 million in taxes.

He also hid tens of millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts and secured $25 million bank loans through fraud, reports say.

The former election campaign manager had “ample funds” to cover the tax bills he should have paid, the court filing said, but “he simply chose not to comply with laws that would reduce his wealth”.

Mueller’s team said Manafort resorted to fraud to maintain a lifestyle of “lavish spending” — spanning multiple homes, luxurious rugs and an ostrich-skin leather jacket — after his lucrative work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine dried up.

Manafort had agreed in September to plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy and fully cooperate with Mueller’s investigations to avoid a second criminal trial. But the special counsel claimed in November Manafort had lied in interviews about a range of topics.

He was found guilty earlier this week of breaching his plea deal. He could also receive financial penalties totalling over $50 million, according to the filing by Mueller’s prosecutors.

His sentence will be decided by judge Ellis.

Mueller’s team said on Friday Manafort had resorted to crime despite having had “every opportunity to succeed”. His sentence should punish him for serious wrongdoing and serve as a deterrent to others tempted to commit similar crimes, they said.

By IANS Updated: Feb 16, 2019 10:07:03 pm