Identity of Russian ex-spy who served as Manafort’s main foreign contact during 2016 election revealed

One of Paul Manafort’s Russian contacts has been revealed as ex-spy Victor Boyarkin, who acted as a direct link between Manafort and wealthy Russian-Ukrainian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

An investigation by TIME magazine found Boyarkin was responsible for collecting Manafort’s debts to Deripaska, for which he offered direct access to then-candidate Trump’s campaign.

In the spring and summer of 2016, Manafort offered “private briefings” about the election to Deripaska in a series of emails, where he also mentioned “our friend V.”

Boyarkin, a former GRU officer, appears on the latest list of US sanctions and is identified as a close associate of Deripaska who carried out business on the oligarch’s behalf, including work in Montenegro’s 2016 election months before Manafort would seek a consulting deal in the same country.

Manafort’s large debts have been previously reported, but TIME’s identification of Boyarkin could offer the clearest picture yet of Manafort’s connections to high-powered Russians and interest groups.

“He owed us a lot of money,” Boyarkin told TIME of his contact with Manafort. “And he was offering ways to pay it back.”

Boyarkin told TIME that though US investigators were interested in his relationship with Manafort during the campaign, he gave them no information.

Manafort was forced to step down as Trump’s campaign chairman in May 2016 after coming under fire for his connections to Russian oligarchs and his past lobbying efforts abroad.

Read more: Here’s everyone who has been charged and convicted in Mueller’s Russia probe so far

It was previously reported that Manafort made 17 trips to Ukraine in 2014 and 2015 to do lobbying work for the Opposition Bloc, the successor to Ukraine’s pro-Russia Party of Regions. These were the latest instances of Manafort’s work with pro-Russia groups that spanned a decade

Records showed Manafort was in approximately $17 million in debt to pro-Russian interests at the time he joined Trump’s campaign. Shell companies connected to Manafort during his pro-Russia consultancy bought the debt.

At the time, he also owed Deripaska close to $20 million, per legal complaints Deripaska’s representatives filed in the Cayman Islands in 2014 and in New York in January.

Manafort was found guilty on eight federal counts of bank and tax fraud and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one count of conspiracy against the US.

He also entered into a deal that included an agreement to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation instead of going to trial in the District of Columbia on a separate indictment of counts of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent.

Manafort is due to be sentenced in February.

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