Friday, May 18, 2018

Back To The Past-- Into The Future... Paul Manafort, Trump's Campaign Manager, A Putin Guy


It's late in September, 2018 and you're at home in Omaha, on North 24th Street between Cuming and Burt neatly tucked between Creighton University and the McDonald's, glued to the TV screen. Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell have basically been covering nothing but the two Manafort trials that started in July and August. The whole country is talking about nothing else. It's the closest we're going to get to a Trump trial until after he's impeached. The Manafort daily revelations have been stunning and tonight is no different. Congressman Don Bacon is ready to commit suicide. His Democratic challenger, Kara Eastman, doesn't care that the DCCC has refused to make her one of their candidates. She's going to win by at least 10 points anyway and she won't owe Pelosi or Hoyer anything. The early ballots arrived a couple days ago. The return rate is the biggest in history, especially from Democrats and independents. They're voting in record numbers.

In a few days California will start voting. Nebraska early voting starts 35 days before the election. In California it's 30 days. Polls show Mimi Walters, Steve Knight, Duncan Hunter, Dana Rohrabacher, Jeff Denham, David Valadao and Devin Nunes are all going down. That's been expected since the trials began. But now it looks like Paul Cook, Ken Calvert and Tom McClintock could lose their seats too; stunning! Doug LaMalfa and Kevin McCarthy may be the only Republicans from California left in Congress-- and McCarthy's race is looking sketchier by the day... by the revelation.

This week the country met a slickly dressed greasy crook, Manafort's former son-in-law, Jeff Yohai. He must have really hated his father-in-law. An old, old friend of mine had a rental property in Malibu and he rented it to a young married couple. Eventually they stopped paying rent on time and then stopped paying rent altogether... and it got worse from there. One day my friend gets a call from the FBI telling him they're about to raid the house, explaining that he has nothing to fear and that it was just the tenants who were involved in a ponzi scheme. The wifey was Paul Manafort's daughter, Jessica and her hubby was notorious real estate crook Jeffrey Yohai. More recently Yohai swindled Dustin Hoffman and his son, Jacob Hoffman, out of $3 million.
The Hoffmans weren’t the only high-profile investors in Yohai’s business. Manafort, his wife Kathleen and daughter Jessica-- who was married to Yohai-- invested $4.7 million in the developer’s L.A.-area projects, according to bankruptcy filings. The biggest of those investments was a $2.7-million loan made by Manafort last year to the now-bankrupt company that owns a property on Stradella Road in Bel-Air, documents show.

...Companies controlling Yohai’s four L.A.-area properties-- the ones on Blue Jay Way and Stradella Road and two others in Los Feliz-- filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December. The properties each entered foreclosure proceedings last year after Yohai defaulted on loans attached to them, real estate records show. They had been scheduled to be sold in trustee’s sales late last year, but that was delayed by the bankruptcies.
Jessica filed for divorce soon after the FBI started talking with Yohai late last winter [2016] about putting her father in prison. Early in October USAToday reported that Yohai has been cooperating with the Feds and accused his father-in-law of conspiring to mislead a federal bankruptcy court about real estate investments.
Yohai's legal declaration alleged that Manafort and other parties in the cases "have all conspired to mislead this court ... as to their true intentions and motivations."

Yohai has worked in real estate in California and New York, business and court records show. Part of that work has focused on buying upscale homes in the Los Angeles area, renovating them and then marketing and reselling the properties to luxury buyers. Four of the properties he planned to redevelop now are in the bankruptcy proceedings.

...FBI investigators are also examining financial transactions between Manafort and Yohai, theNew York Times reported in June. Separately, Politico reported that federal investigators had sought Yohai's cooperation, while CNN reported that he had met with investigators. It is unclear whether Mueller's investigation has included the real estate issues now in bankruptcy court.

Yohai's filing alleged that Manafort and others had misled him and the court about the funding and ownership of the companies that have proposed to clear up the bankruptcy issues. He questioned whether the rescue plan had sufficient funds to finalize the deal.
It looks to me like Yohai and Jessica moved from small time swindling to major money laundering on behalf of Manafort and-- what else?-- Russia criminals. High end real estate, as you know by now, is how crooks from around the world launder their ill-gotten gains.
The revelation about investigators’ interest in Mr. Yohai’s activities comes amid indications that the scrutiny of Mr. Manafort has intensified. Besides the F.B.I. and congressional inquiries, the New York State attorney general’s office has opened a preliminary inquiry “focused on certain real estate dealings” involving Mr. Manafort, according to a third person with direct knowledge of the matter. Last month [Oct, 2017], the Wall Street Journal reported that federal officials had requested his bank records from Citizens Financial Group, and NBC News said a subpoena had been issued for records related to a $3.5 million loan obtained last August by a shell company, Summerbreeze L.L.C., linked to Mr. Manafort. The New York Times first reported on the existence of the loan in April.

...The Summerbreeze loan was part of a series of mortgages over the past year, totaling $20 million, secured by properties belonging to Mr. Manafort or his wife. Some of that money appears to have been used by Mr. Manafort to try to salvage his investments with Mr. Yohai. Court records show that Mr. Manafort and his wife invested at least $4 million in several California properties, part of a real estate business that one of Mr. Manafort’s daughters described as a joint venture between her father and Mr. Yohai.

The partnership was unexpected given Mr. Manafort’s early opinion of his son-in-law, as described in text messages belonging to Andrea Manafort, one of Mr. Manafort’s two daughters, which were hacked last year and posted on a website used by Ukrainian hackers. In the messages, Ms. Manafort said in 2013 that her father “wholeheartedly opposes” her sister Jessica’s marriage to Mr. Yohai, whose financial problems had deeply concerned Mr. Manafort.

Yet within two years, Mr. Yohai, who had a degree in journalism and became a real estate professional only in 2011, was forming shell companies to purchase luxury properties in the Hollywood Hills, worth tens of millions of dollars, which Mr. Manafort would put money into. Mr. Manafort was more than a passive investor; Jessica Manafort told her sister last year that Mr. Yohai had “a contract that says dad and him are 50/50 business partners.”

“He flew out to California and helped Jeff completely reorganize and set up his business,” wrote Jessica Manafort, who filed for divorce in March.

While Mr. Yohai borrowed millions from banks and obtained money from investors, he also intimated he had access to large amounts of cash. In January 2016, he offered $7 million in cash for a mansion whose owner, a Russian businessman, was in debt to several associates from Russia who had liens on the house. Mr. Yohai put $160,000 down to secure the mansion deal, but by June 2016 had backed out of it and forfeited the deposit.

A month later he appeared on a reality television show, Million Dollar Listing, and proposed buying three apartment units in New York City for $15 million in cash; the real estate agent said on the show that he had “seen proof of funds.” When a friend texted Andrea Manafort, asking if her sister and Mr. Yohai really had access to that kind of money, Ms. Manafort replied, “Of course they don’t.”

“Her hubby is running a Ponzi scheme,” Ms. Manafort wrote. “I’m sure of it.”

That is what Mr. Yohai was accused of in a lawsuit filed in November by an investor in Mr. Yohai’s real estate business. The suit asserted that Mr. Yohai employed a “web of dozens of limited liability companies” to repay early investors with money from new investors to create the illusion of a “quick and large return on their investments.”

The lawsuit-- filed by Guy Aroch, a fashion photographer who said he invested $2.9 million with Mr. Yohai-- also accuses Mr. Yohai of taking advantage of his connection to Mr. Manafort to meet celebrities and public figures. It is unclear how Mr. Hoffman and his son, Jacob, came to invest $3 million in one of Mr. Yohai’s deals that has since gone bankrupt; a photo shows Mr. Yohai and Jacob Hoffman together at a launch party for a website in 2015.

A representative for the Hoffmans did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Yohai denied Mr. Aroch’s accusations in a court filing, and said the lawsuit invoked Mr. Manafort’s name “in an improper effort to attract publicity.” Mr. Yohai and Mr. Manafort have the same lawyer.

“This allegation that I participated in fraud and criminal activity is obviously an extremely derogatory accusation that will harm my reputation,” he said in the filing.

Many of Mr. Manafort’s real estate purchases over the years coincided with his long-running work as a political consultant to the Russia-backed Party of Regions in Ukraine. During his time there, Mr. Manafort used a network of shell companies in the tax havens of Cyprus and Belize to move money around and collect payments from clients, who, in addition to the Ukrainians, included Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with whom Mr. Manafort partnered in investments.

Back in the United States, Mr. Manafort created still more shell companies to make cash purchases of expensive properties for millions of dollars and other investments. His Los Angeles investments were handled through a limited liability company called Baylor Holding, in which Mr. Manafort and Mr. Yohai were partners, according to court records.

In a deposition related to Mr. Aroch’s lawsuit, Mr. Yohai said his California real estate business operated under the name Marin West and was focused on buying and redeveloping luxury homes in exclusive neighborhoods around Hollywood. Although he was the sole owner of Marin West, Mr. Yohai seemed ignorant of important details, saying he was not sure when it was created or where it was incorporated, and was uncertain who wrote the content for its website. He speculated it could have been written by someone he described as “kind of like the accountant for Marin West.”

“I think he wrote this bio,” Mr. Yohai said, referring to a description of himself that appeared on the site. “I honestly don’t know.”
Old news... updated yesterday by Reuters: Yohai "has cut a plea deal with the Justice Department that requires him to cooperate with other criminal probes. The guilty plea agreement, which is under seal and has not been previously reported, could add to the legal pressure on Manafort, who is facing two indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election."
Andrew Brown, a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, had been overseeing an investigation into Yohai’s real estate and bank dealings in California and New York several months before Mueller was appointed to his post in May 2017.

Yohai’s agreement, which was concluded early this year, included him pleading guilty to misusing construction loan funds and to a count related to a bank account overdraft.

     While the deal was cut with Brown’s office, the federal government “can ask for help at any time,” said one of the people familiar with the matter.

Manafort is to go on trial later this year to fight the two indictments. The charges against him range from failing to disclose lobbying work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party to bank fraud.

As a close business partner, Yohai was privy to many of Manafort’s financial dealings, according to the two people familiar with the matter and court filings in the bankruptcies of four Los Angeles properties in 2016. In addition to co-investing in California real estate, the two cooperated in getting loans for property deals in New York, Manafort’s indictments show.

Mueller sent a team of prosecutors to interview Yohai last June, asking him about Manafort’s relationship with Trump, his ties to Russian oligarchs, and his borrowing of tens of millions of dollars against properties in New York, Reuters reported in February, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

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At 9:26 AM, Blogger edmondo said...

You are delusional if you think anyone outside of "The Resistance" gives a rat's patoot about Russian money laundering.

Oh, I love the part where you think Kara Eastman is going to win. I suspect the DCCC is working overtime to find a way to torpedo her before Labor Day. It's how the Dems work.

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

aside from edmondo's cynicism... which I share...

All this shit about manafort, daughter and sonofabitch-in-law is a year old... and Mueller is still dragging his feat?

These people should all be breaking rocks by now. What's the hold-up?

More proof that Mueller isn't in business to find any justice. His job is to run out the clock until after the election. It'll be president jesus h. pence for 10 years followed by an upgrade in title to savior, martial law and finally the suspension of elections. The neo-inquisition will soon follow.


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