A prominent Ukrainian tycoon denied Thursday requesting or receiving US polling data from Paul Manafort, following revelations in a court filing Tuesday that pointed to coordination between the former Trump campaign chairman and the Russian government.
Rinat Akhmetov – one of Ukraine’s wealthiest men – said in a statement to CNN Thursday that allegations of contacts with Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-intelligence-linked associate of Manafort, were “false” and that Manafort’s work for Akhmetov’s System Capital Management (SCM) ended over a decade ago.
Special counsel Robert Mueller believes Manafort was sharing polling data and discussing Russian-Ukrainian policy with Kilimnik while he led the Trump presidential campaign in 2016, according to parts of a court filing that were meant to be redacted by Manafort’s legal team Tuesday but were released publicly.
CNN reported Wednesday that Manafort intended for Kilimnik to give the polls to Akhmetov and another Ukrainian oligarch. It is still unclear what Kilimnik did with the polling data. But Akhmetov’s denial leaves open the possibility that the campaign data made its way to others in Ukraine or Russia.
A statement to CNN on behalf of Akmetov said: “Mr. Akhmetov never requested nor received any polling data or any other information about the 2016 US elections from Paul Manafort or Konstantin Kilimnik.
“Any allegations about contacts between them and Mr. Akhmetov in relation to the 2016 US elections is false and will be strongly refuted.”
Akhmetov bankrolled the Party of Regions, a Ukranian political party aligned with Moscow that Manafort worked to bolster. Akhmetov reportedly introduced Manafort to the party’s leader, Viktor Yanukovych, and they embarked on a decade-long partnership that saw Yanukovych win the presidency and major victories at the polls. Manafort earned $60 million for his work in Ukraine, and was convicted last year of financial fraud after hiding the money overseas to avoid paying US taxes.
Akhmetov’s statement to CNN also said, “As has been repeatedly stated in the media, the work between SCM and Mr. Manafort and his consulting firm was completed in 2005. Mr. Manafort has not worked with SCM since then. Any kind of work that he performed in Ukraine after 2005 was political by nature, and was not paid for by SCM or its shareholder Rinat Akhmetov. Therefore, the information about any ‘debts’ or other existing financial obligations between Mr. Akhmetov and Mr. Manafort is absolutely not true.”
Manafort earned millions from his Ukrainian political work over several years, which included wire transfers from Akhmetov and Lyovochkin through offshore bank accounts, prosecutors said at trial.
That revenue appeared to dry up by 2015. However, Manafort wrote in an email to his accountant in August 2016 that he expected a payment of $2.4 million in November 2016 for work he did in Ukraine, according to trial documents.
CNN’s Katelyn Polantz, Evan Perez and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.