Paul Manafort Allegedly Used Laundered Money to Make Thousands Through Airbnb
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, was indicted by a federal grand jury Monday on a number of charges including conspiracy against the United States and an alleged scheme to hide millions of dollars of foreign funds through offshore accounts.
The indictment, which includes charges against Rick Gates, Manfort’s longtime business partner, said Manafort “used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income.”
The indictment details Manafort’s purchases with the $18 million he had allegedly laundered including expensive clothing, services and real estate. Among his properties, the indictment said, was a $2.85 million Manhattan apartment he purchased in 2012 with money from his offshore account in Cyprus, and rented it out on Airbnb to make thousands of dollars a week.
“Manafort used the property from at least January 2015 through 2016 as an income-generating rental property, charging thousands of dollars a week on Airbnb, among other places,” the indictment said. “In his tax returns, Manafort took advantage of the beneficial tax consequences of owning this rental property.”
“Paul Manafort has never had an Airbnb account and we are confident the facts will show he was not involved in the renting of the Howard St. property over Airbnb,” Jason Maloni, a spokesperson for Manafort, said in a statement to Fortune in November.
The indictment said Manafort purchased the property through “a corporate vehicle called ‘MC Soho Holdings, LLC’ owned by him and his family.” It is unclear exactly how much Manafort made by listing the property on rental services like Airbnb.
While the indictment did not give an exact address of the property, New York property records show the condo is located at 29 Howard Street in unit four. The listing no longer appears on Airbnb’s website, though details of the building featured by Sotheby’s show it is around 2,150 square feet, with wooden floors, large windows, two bedrooms and two bathrooms with marble features.
Manafort has pleaded not guilty.
A representative from Airbnb did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The indictment also said Manafort falsely identified the property as a second, owner-occupied home instead of a rental property to the bank to get a better loan when he applied for a mortgage. The bank ended up giving him a loan of $3.185 million, according to court papers.
“Because the bank would permit a greater loan amount if the property were owner-occupied, Manafort falsely represented to the bank and its agents that it was a secondary home used as such by his daughter and son-in-law and was not a property held as a rental property,” the indictment said.
The indictment comes as a result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
The Manhattan property isn’t the only one of Manafort’s homes mentioned in the 30-page indictment. It also includes details of a brownstone in Brooklyn Manafort purchased in 2012 with money from Cyprus. The indictment said Manafort applied for loans for the property, of which “Manfort used hundreds of thousands of dollars from the construction loan to make a down payment on another property in California.”
Manfort’s real estate purchases in New York were questioned earlier this year by an investigation from WNYC, New York’s public radio station.
At the time, Manafort released a statement in May saying, “I am sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists and anonymous ‘experts’ out there but my personal investments in real estate are all ordinary business transactions,” according to WNYC.
“There is nothing out of the ordinary about them and I am confident anyone who isn’t afflicted with scandal-fever will come to the same conclusion,” Manafort said.