Podesta Group one of the companies mentioned in Manafort indictment: report

Podesta Group one of the companies mentioned in Manafort indictment: report
© Podesta Group
The Podesta Group, a prominent lobbying and public relations firm, is one of the two unidentified companies mentioned in the grand jury indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Richard Gates, NBC News reported Monday.

Manafort and Gates approached "Company A" and "Company B" in 2012 about lobbying on behalf of the Ukrainian government, according to the indictment that was unsealed Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Company A refers to Mercury Public Affairs and Company B refers to the Podesta Group, three sources with knowledge of the investigation told the news outlet.

The Podesta Group and Mercury both did work to benefit a pro-Russia Ukrainian party through Brussels-based nonprofit European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. The Podesta Group earned more than $1.2 million from the client from 2012 through 2014, according to disclosures it filed with the Justice Department.

The companies were not paid by the nonprofit, the indictment says, but by offshore bank accounts run by Gates and Manafort that collectively paid them more than $2 million for their work.

The details about Podesta and Mercury are only one part of the Justice Department's 12-count indictment against Manafort and Gates. Prosecutors charge that the two men knowingly evaded foreign lobbying disclosure laws by doing work for the Centre and then lying about it. Other charges include conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, tax evasion and lying to federal authorities.

While the Podesta Group had registered lobbyists for the group under domestic lobbying laws — which are less strict than ones governing foreign advocacy — they retroactively filed paperwork with the Justice Department earlier this year to report the foreign lobbying.

The group has maintained that it did not know the nonprofit had any connections to foreign governments or political parties, saying the client had signed an affidavit certifying its independence.

Tony Podesta, who founded the left-leaning lobbying firm almost 30 years ago, stepped down from his top role on Monday morning, reports said. Politico first reported the news, and CNN followed, saying the firm would be changing its name.

Podesta and the Podesta Group are under investigation by Mueller, but no charges have been made.