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Ukrainian lawmaker accuses former Trump aide of hiding money

Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman to US President Donald Trump, has been accused of concealing money he received from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Manafort's spokesman has denied the allegation.

Ukrainian Member of Parliament Serhiy Leshchenko has accused Manafort of hiding a $750,000 (694,000 euro) payment by the Party of Regions, which backed ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort, who served as a campaign chairman for Trump between March and August 2016, previously worked for Yanukovych as a public relations advisor, as well as for Yanukovych's Party of Regions, between 2007 and 2012.

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Leshchenko - a member of current Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's party - published a 2009 invoice which was purportedly signed by Manafort. The invoice was for 501 computers from a company called Davis Manafort.

'Baseless' allegations

But Leshchenko has argued the invoice provided a cover for "political consulting," saying: "Of course they were illegal payments." He claims the money came from an account opened by a Belize offshore company based in Kyrgyzstan.

The date of the payment, October 14, 2009, matches an entry on the so-called Black Ledges, the handwritten accounting books of the Party of Regions, according to Leshchenko. He says Manafort's name appears in the books next to entries indicating he received party funds.

Manafort's spokesman told the "New York Times" that the accusation is "baseless" and should be "summarily dismissed."

Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) has said it will not look into the reports, as Manafort is not a Ukrainian citizen. 

Ongoing investigation

The "New York Times" reported earlier this year that US security agencies intercepted calls between Manafort and Russian intelligence officials during the campaign.

Earlier this week, the head of the FBI, James Comey, confirmed that his agency is investigating links between members of the Trump campaign and officials in Russia.

kbd/gsw (AFP, AP)

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