Manafort Claims Worth of $28 Million But Mueller Has His Doubts

(Bloomberg) -- Paul Manafort, the indicted former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, says he’s worth $28 million. But prosecutors have their doubts and aren’t convinced about the value of his Trump Tower apartment. 

Prosecutors for Special Counsel Robert Mueller highlighted the dispute Sunday in a court filing that urged a judge to deny Manafort’s request to ease the bail terms set after his Oct. 27 indictment. They raised a series of questions and said they won’t relent until he provides more information about his real estate and insurance policies.

“Although Manafort has provided the government with a spreadsheet listing his total assets at approximately $28 million, the government has yet to substantiate Manafort’s net worth,” according to the filing in federal court in Washington. “To ensure that any bail package is based on an accurate picture of his finances, we submit that Manafort should be required to represent the full extent of his assets, in the United States and abroad, to the court.”

Manafort, 68, an international political consultant, was accused along with his right-hand man, Rick Gates, of lying to U.S. authorities about their work in Ukraine, laundering millions of dollars, and hiding offshore accounts. Both pleaded not guilty on Oct. 30, when prosecutors warned that they might flee the U.S. before their trial if their bail terms weren’t stringent enough.

Manafort filed papers on Saturday asking U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to free him from home confinement with electronic monitoring in exchange for his pledge of $8 million worth of property and $4.5 million in life-insurance policies. Jackson is set to take up the issue of their terms of release on Monday.

Not Sold Yet

Mueller’s prosecutors aren’t sold yet on Manafort’s offer to pledge his unit at Trump Tower in New York, an apartment in lower Manhattan, a home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and life insurance policies to secure his appearances in court. 

Manafort told prosecutors that the Trump Tower apartment -- identified in the filing only as his Fifth Avenue property -- has a fair market value of $6 million with a $3 million mortgage, giving it a $3 million net value. But Manafort lacked an appraisal or an “open source estimate,” according to prosecutors. The government’s own estimates put the unit at $2.5 million, the U.S. said.

“Until an independent appraisal of the property is obtained, the government cannot agree that this property is appropriate as a security,” according to Mueller prosecutors Andrew Weissmann, Greg Andres and Kyle Freeny.

Manafort also said his Manhattan property on Baxter Street has a net value of $3.5 million with a $1 million mortgage. But prosecutors said the unit is controlled by a legal entity owned by Manafort, his wife and a daughter. Prosecutors said they must confirm that they are the real owners.

Doubting the Value

The prosecutors also have doubts about the value of life insurance policies that Manafort says are worth $4.5 million. Prosecutors said they want to ask Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. about the value and confirm that a trust holding much of the value would allow them to be pledged.

Mueller’s team said that one Manafort property in the Hamptons and another in Alexandria, Virginia, aren’t appropriate security because they’re encumbered by the same $9.5 million mortgage. Prosecutors also questioned the value of a brownstone in Brooklyn, New York, which Manafort said is worth $9 million but was recently appraised at $5 million to $6 million.

On his tax returns, Manafort also listed a $6 million asset in Ukraine that he now says lost all of its value, prosecutors said.

Minimum Bond

At a minimum, Mueller’s team said, Manafort must post a $10 million bond backed by “financially responsible sureties,” real property and other assets, while agreeing to other conditions.

Prosecutors say Manafort poses a risk of fleeing before his trial because he faces serious charges and is a wealthy man with extensive ties abroad. They also cited his multiple passports and travel with a phone registered to an alias.

Both Manafort and Gates are confined to their Virginia homes. They may leave for meetings with their attorneys, court appearances, doctors’ appointments and religious observances. Gates was granted the right to attend children’s activities this weekend. 

Violation of those terms could mean Manafort would owe $10 million and Gates $5 million.

The case is U.S. v. Manafort, 17-cr-201, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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