Judge turns down Manafort’s bid to nix money laundering charge

A federal judge has rejected former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s attempt to toss out a money laundering charge stemming from his use of offshore bank accounts funded by a lobbying campaign he masterminded on behalf of political interests in Ukraine.

Manafort’s defense team argued that the tens of millions of dollars he’s accused of laundering didn’t qualify as the proceeds of criminal activity because lobbying for a foreign entity in the U.S. is legal and the only crime Manafort may have committed in that regard is failing to register.

But U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson disagreed.

“It is a crime to ‘act’ [as a foreign agent] ‘unless’ one has registered – the statute does not simply state that the failure to register is unlawful,” Jackson wrote in a nine-page decision issued Friday. “These laws are not just about paperwork; their object is to ensure that no person acts to advance the interests of a foreign government or principal within the United States unless the public has been properly notified of his or her allegiance.”

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