The indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort underscored a truth all locals know: There’s always a Florida connection.
In this case, federal prosecutors allege Manafort laundered money through companies incorporated in Florida and then used some of it to make purchases from Florida businesses — with a total of $1.78 million paid to vendors in the state.
The government does not list Manafort’s Palm Beach Gardens home as a property paid for with the tens of millions of dollars he and business partner Rick Gates allegedly funneled into the U.S. from unregistered lobbying work they did for Ukrainian politicians. Both pleaded not guilty at initial appearances Monday in Washington.
But the 5,231-square-foot home with canals on two sides at 10 St. James Drive, which was purchased by Manafort and his wife for $1.5 million in 2007, is listed as the mailing address for some of the seven Florida companies listed as being used in the alleged scheme. The address is linked to Daisy Manafort LLC, John Hannah LLC, Lilred LLC and MC Soho Holdings LLC, all listed in the indictment.
Prosecutors claim Manafort laundered $18 million, concealed the income on his tax returns and spent it on property, decor and tuition for his kids. The indictment said transactions moved through bank accounts in Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Seychelles.
Florida vendors that may have received laundered money are not listed by name in the indictment since there’s no allegation they knew they were being paid with tainted assets.
A “home automation, lighting and home entertainment” company based in Florida received $1.3 million in wire transfers from 2011 to 2013, according to the indictment. Transactions ranged from $6,200 to $290,000.
An unspecified Florida contractor received about $432,000 in wire transfers from Manafort-linked companies from 2011 to 2013, and a Florida art gallery was paid about $31,900 in two transfers made in the same time period.
David Weinstein, a Coral Gables partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson and a former federal prosecutor, said he found it interesting that the Palm Beach Gardens house was not listed in the forfeiture allegations. Manafort’s other properties in New York and Virginia were purchased with income not listed on his tax returns, according to the indictment.
“It will be interesting to see when he posts bond what properties are being used to secure his personal surety bond,” Weinstein said.
The government included one charge with a maximum five-year sentence, which Weinstein said is likely a “safety-valve charge” that could be used to induce a plea. But even if the case never goes to trial, Manafort will be in for a long ride. The president could pardon a criminal conviction, but that power does not extend to forfeiture and tax issues, Weinstein said.
“His problems are not going to stop with this indictment,” Weinstein said. “There’s certainly some very clear tax implications that are listed here that have to do with his failure to declare foreign bank accounts.”