US Treasury Department agents have recently obtained information about offshore financial transactions involving President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, as part of a federal anti-corruption probe into his work in Eastern Europe, the AP reports. Information about Manafort's transactions was turned over earlier this year to agents in the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network by investigators in Cyprus at the US agency's request, a person familiar with the case said. Manafort, Trump's unpaid campaign chairman from March until August last year, has been a leading focus of the US government's investigation into whether Trump associates coordinated with Moscow to meddle in the 2016 campaign. This week, the AP revealed his secret work for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago.
Manafort was known to route transactions through Cyprus, per wire-transfer records and court documents in a 2014 Cayman Islands legal dispute. In that case, Manafort used Cypriot shell companies as part of a $19 million deal with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to purchase a Ukrainian cable TV provider. In one case, a Manafort-linked firm received $1 million in October 2009 from a mysterious firm via the Bank of Cyprus. The payment left the account the same day in two, roughly $500,000 chunks to accounts with no obvious owner. There's nothing inherently illicit about using multiple companies, but it's unclear why Manafort would've been involved with firms in Cyprus, known for money laundering before joining the EU, with murky money sources and secrecy surrounding their connections to him. A Treasury rep declined to comment; a Manafort rep didn't immediately respond. (Read more Paul Manafort stories.)