The 45-year-old who rose to become Donald Trump’s deputy campaign chairman is facing 12 charges, including money laundering and conspiracy
Rick Gates has long been closely tied to Paul Manafort. On Monday, those bonds extended to the two men being jointly indicted on 12 counts including money laundering, making false statements to federal authorities and “conspiracy against the United States” in a document that describes Gates as “Manafort’s right-hand man”.
Gates, 45, had worked with Manafort since 2006 when he joined Davis Manafort, an international lobbying firm that did extensive work in Ukraine.
He joined the Trump campaign at the same time as Manafort in March 2016 and served as a top political aide, eventually being promoted to deputy campaign manager.
However, Gates was linked to internal turmoil during the campaign. Most notoriously, according to a campaign source, the Trump aide signed off on and edited the plagiarized speech given by Melania Trump at the Republican national convention, when she was quickly revealed to have copied chunks of a speech by Michelle Obama.
After the campaign, Gates worked at a pro-Trump fundraising Super Pac through to March this year and then stepped down as speculation swirled about both his and Manafort’s ties to Russia.
Gates first started working with Manafort in Ukraine where, based in Kiev, they served as consultants for the strongman Victor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian Party of Regions. They worked for him through 2014 when Yanukovych, the then president of Ukraine, was ousted after street protests and forced to flee to Russia.
The indictment covers this work and alleges that Gates, along with Manafort, violated the law, by lobbying for the Party of Regions “without registering and providing the disclosures required”. It also covers money-laundering claims Gates wired $3m from offshore accounts into other bank accounts that he controlled. He allegedly used funds from offshore accounts to cover “personal expenses”, including his mortgage, children’s tuition and interior decorating of his Virginia residence.
The two also worked together at a private equity firm called Pericles Emerging Partners LP. The firm was set up to invest in businesses in Ukraine.
It only made one investment, backed by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, in a telecommunications firm called Black Sea Cable. The investment fizzled and ended in a financial dispute between Deripaska and the two political operatives.
Lawyers for Deripaska wrote: “It appears that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates have simply disappeared”, in a 2014 court filing in an attempt to recover at least some of the $19m investment.