As reported by Censor.NET citing The Associated Press, Ukrainian investigators called the ledger with dollar amounts and dates next to the name of Paul Manafort published last August evidence of off-the-books payments from a pro-Russian political party - and part of a larger pattern of corruption under the country's former president. Manafort, who worked for the party as an international political consultant, has publicly questioned the ledger's authenticity.
Now, financial records newly obtained by The Associated Press confirm that at least $1.2 million in payments listed in the ledger next to Manafort's name were actually received by his consulting firm in the United States. They include payments in 2007 and 2009, providing the first evidence that Manafort's firm received at least some money listed in the so-called Black Ledger.
Read more: Ukrainian MP says has more evidence against Manafort, - CNN
The two payments came years before Manafort became involved in Trump's campaign, but for the first time bolster the credibility of the ledger. They also put the ledger in a new light, as federal prosecutors in the U.S. have been investigating Manafort's work in Eastern Europe as part of a larger anti-corruption probe.
Separately, Manafort is also under scrutiny as part of congressional and FBI investigations into possible contacts between Trump associates and Russia's government under President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. The payments detailed in the ledger and confirmed by the documents obtained by the AP are unrelated to the 2016 presidential campaign and came years before Manafort worked as Trump's unpaid campaign chairman.
In a statement to the AP, Manafort did not deny that his firm received the money but said "any wire transactions received by my company are legitimate payments for political consulting work that was provided. I invoiced my clients and they paid via wire transfer, which I received through a U.S. bank."
Previously, Manafort and his spokesman, Jason Maloni, have maintained the ledger was fabricated and said no public evidence existed that Manafort or others received payments recorded in it.
The AP, however, identified in the records two payments received by Manafort that aligned with the ledger: one for $750,000 that a Ukrainian lawmaker said last month was part of a money-laundering effort that should be investigated by U.S. authorities. The other was $455,249 and also matched a ledger entry.
The newly obtained records also expand the global scope of Manafort's financial activities related to his Ukrainian political consulting, because both payments came from companies once registered in the Central American country of Belize. Last month, the AP reported that the U.S. government has examined Manafort's financial transactions in the Mediterranean country of Cyprus as part of its probe.
Federal prosecutors have been looking into Manafort's work for years as part of an effort to recover Ukrainian assets stolen after the 2014 ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia. No charges have been filed as part of the investigation.
On May 31, Petro Poroshenko Bloc MP Serhii Leshchenko and journalists Anton Marchuk and Sevhil Musaieva-Borovyk published some of the documents proving the existence of Party of Regions' slush funds. According to the materials, the Party of Regions spent $66 million on political corruption over the second half of 2012.
Even earlier, ex-Deputy Head of the Security Service of Ukraine Viktor Trepak said he had passed the information about Party of Regions' slush funds to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.
NABU Director Artem Sytnyk confirmed the acceptance of 841 files related to the slush funds and covering the period between 2008-2012. Sytnyk announced the start of identification of all persons indicated in the documents, adding the NABU would take measures to prevent their possible escape from the country. He noted the involvants will be charged under the "offering of undue profit" article of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
Considerable progress made in PR's slush funds case: NABU ready to issue first indictments, - Sytnyk(0)