Diary

Manafort's Ex-Son-In-Law Cut a Deal

The news reports raise more questions than anything, but the gist is that Jeffrey Yohai, who recently divorced a Paul Manafort daughter, cut a deal with the US Attorney in Los Angeles earlier this year, but not with the Special Counsel. What were the charges?

Jeffrey Yohai, who until last year was married to one of Paul Manafort’s daughters, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in the Central District of California relating to real-estate loans on properties in New York and California, these people said. Mr. Yohai invested with Mr. Manafort on real-estate deals in both states, public records show.

Buzzfeed has a little more background.

Yohai’s real estate business with Manafort, which resulted in multiple bankruptcy filings in late 2016, had caught the attention of federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. Yohai’s plea agreement is with that office, the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

BuzzFeed News previously reported that a bank in California forcibly closed two accounts linked to Yohai and Manafort’s business dealings due to a series of transactions the bank deemed to be suspicious.

A few days before the 2016 election, the bank — Banc of California — filed a suspicious activity report, or SAR, with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) detailing the transactions and closing of the accounts. By law, banks must file suspicious activity reports when they spot transactions that bear hallmarks of money laundering or other financial misconduct. Such reports can support investigations and intelligence gathering, but are not on their own evidence of a crime.

Mr. Yohai has agreed to cooperate with other federal investigators, and has already met with the Special Counsel and the New York AG. No word on what he actually said to investigators, which is a key question. As to what this means, I’m not a lawyer, but the least I can say is that it’s good to not be Paul Manafort, what with an ex-business partner and now an ex-son-in-law working against Trump’s ex-campaign manager.

A couple of months ago, an LA County judge banned Mr. Yohai from using his $8.5 million Bel-Air crib as an AirBnB. He bought the house in March 2016 and declared bankruptcy nine months later. In another deal, his business partner was Dustin Hoffman’s son, who sunk a cool $3 million into another property.

This seems a little out-of-date, but here’s a blurb on Mr. Yohai.

In November 2016, one investor filed a lawsuit against Yohai, claiming he was running a ponzi scheme using of dozens of limited liability companies and leveraging his father-in-law’s name to meet famous people. Yohai denied the accusations. But in a deposition for the suit, Yohai could not answer basic questions about Marin West, the California real estate business he allegedly owned alone.

Yohai is married to Jessica Manafort, but the two separated in March. Hacked and posted text messages between Jessica and Andrea Manafort, her sister, exposed Paul Manafort was concerned in 2013 about Yohai’s financial history and opposed the marriage. But after the wedding, he and Yohai went into business together, forming shell companies and investing in luxury properties in Los Angeles.