Former Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort — who resigned his position last summer amid scrutiny over his ties to the Russian government — is raising eyebrows once again thanks to $19 million in home equity loans for properties in New York City.
The Intercept’s David Dayen reports that Manafort has taken out seven separate home equity loans since 2012 with an estimated worth of $19.2 million. What makes this particularly strange, Dayen notes, is the presence of “one particularly large and unusual loan from a banker on Trump’s Economic Advisory Council.”
This particular loan was used to purchase a two-unit brownstone at 377 Union Street in Brooklyn. Despite the fact that home equity loans such as the one Manafort took out on the property are supposed to give owners incentives to improve the property, it seems that he has completely left it alone since its acquisition.
“The home has been empty since the purchase,” Dayen writes. “Though work initially started, none has been performed in the last year and a half; cinderblocks and steel beams line the front yard. A stop-work order on the project is dated February 1, after Manafort secured the new loan. Neighbors have complained about Manafort’s ‘eyesore’ of a project.”
In the larger picture, Dayen says that Manafort’s decision to borrow $6.6 million against the property without doing anything to fix it up leaves him owing much more money on the house than its current worth. This leads to questions about what his real goal is with such property investments.
New York attorneys Julian Russo and Matthew Termine tell Dayen that it’s possible that these loans were used to generate “available cash for Manafort and his family, with successive loans paying off prior ones.”
“You’ve got lots of LLCs, lots of properties, lots of transfers to Manafort, his wife, and his kids,” Termine tells Dayen. “It didn’t smell good, and then added together it really doesn’t.”