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Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort faces more than 19 years in prison

By Sky News

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Manafort’s mugshot after his arrest

(SKY NEWS) — Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort could spend more than 19 years in prison after being found guilty of tax and bank fraud charges.

Prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller have urged a federal judge in Virginia to impose a prison sentence of between 19.6 and 24.4 years on the 69-year-old.

Manafort also faces a fine of between $50,000 (£38,000) and $24m (£18m) in restitution.

“In the end, Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars,” the prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

“The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct.”

Friday’s court filing came just days after a federal judge in Washington DC ruled that Manafort had breached his plea agreement in a parallel case by lying to investigators despite a pledge to co-operate.

It is believed that could have a direct impact on how Manafort is sentenced in the Virginia case.

Manafort was convicted in August last year and has been in jail while awaiting his formal sentencing.

His lawyers have said the incarceration has created a mental and physical strain on Manafort, who has recently used a wheelchair in court appearances.

Manafort was one of the first people in Mr Trump’s circle to face criminal charges as part of Mr Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to tilt the 2016 presidential election in his favour.

Mr Trump has denied colluding and called the probe a “witch hunt”, while Russia has denied meddling in the election.

None of the charges Manafort faced related directly to Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

In the Virginia case, prosecutors accused Manafort of hiding from US tax authorities $16m (£12m) he earned as a political consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, money he used to fund an opulent lifestyle.

Later, when his lobbying work started to dry up following the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, prosecutors said Manafort began lying to banks to secure $20m (£15m) in loans to keep his lifestyle afloat.

After almost four days of deliberations, a jury found Manafort guilty on two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

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