Ukrainian prosecutors want to question Paul Manafort in connection with a corruption investigation and have made repeated requests for assistance from US authorities, CNN has learned.
Prosecutors in Kiev said they have made seven separate appeals over the past two years for help in questioning President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, including letters to Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey and US Justice Department officials.
Ukrainian officials said the US has not responded to those requests.
Under a “mutual legal assistance” treaty, the two countries have agreed to regularly assist each other in law enforcement efforts, such as gathering statements and other evidence for prosecutions.
US authorities confirmed to CNN that the requests were received but declined further comment.
Manafort served as Trump’s campaign chief until being pushed out in August 2016.
The official requests from a special prosecution unit in Kiev started in December 2014, and involve a corruption case targeting Ukraine’s former Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych.
Manafort has not been charged with a crime.
Prosecutors want him to testify, Ukraine’s prosecutor for special investigations Serhiy Gorbatyuk said.
Prosecutors allege that Lavrynovych illegally diverted more than $1 million in government funds to a prominent New York City law firm — Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Lavrynovych had hired Skadden to review the 2011 jailing of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who had received a seven-year sentence for allegedly harming Ukraine’s interests in gas supply negotiations with Russia.
Tymoshenko was the main political rival of the Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, whom Manafort advised until Yanukovych was deposed in 2014.
Tymoshenko was released from jail at the same time that Yanukovych was ousted.
Many saw her sentencing as politically motivated by the pro-Russian government.
In 2012, as a result of the sentencing, Ukraine faced the possibility of an unfavorable ruling from the European Court of Human Rights, and US lawmakers were considering sanctions.
In response to the deteriorating international climate, Ukrainian prosecutors say, Manafort drafted a public relations strategy that included hiring Skadden to review the Tymoshenko case and show the conviction had a sound legal basis.
But a spokeswoman for the US State Department in 2012 said the report Skadden eventually came out with “was incomplete and doesn’t give an accurate picture”.
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