What we know about the ‘Hapsburg group’ named in Manafort lobbying scheme

What we know about the ‘Hapsburg group’ named in Manafort lobbying scheme
Copyright REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
By Alice Cuddy
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The ex-Trump campaign manager paid former European politicians more than 2 million euros to lobby for Ukraine, according to a new indictment.


Ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly paid a group of former senior European politicians to covertly promote the interests of Ukraine’s previous pro-Russia government in Washington, according to a new indictment.

The superseding indictment filed by special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday says Manafort “secretly retained” the ex-politicians, known as the “Hapsburg group”, to lobby for Ukraine in 2012 and 2013.

Here is everything the indictment tells us about the group and their involvement in the scheme.

Why Ukraine?

The indictment says Manafort earned tens of millions of dollars in income representing the interests of Ukraine, its political parties and leaders in a covert lobbying scheme.

Manafort, who was previously charged with multiple counts of tax and bank fraud, faces new charges of conspiracy, money-laundering, failing to register as an agent for a foreign actor and making false statements as a result of the alleged scheme.

How did the former European leaders get involved?

According to the indictment, acting on behalf of then-Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions, Manafort in 2012 retained the so-called Hapsburg group to “take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying the United States.”

The plan was for the group to “appear to be providing their independent assessments of Government of Ukraine actions, when in fact they were paid lobbyists for Ukraine,” the indictment said.

Why did Manafort want them?

Manafort called the group “SUPER VIP” in an “EYES ONLY” memo created around June 2012, in which he explained that he wanted to “assemble a group of high-level European highly influencial [sic] champions and politically credible friends who can act informally and without any visible relationship with the Government of Ukraine."

Who was in the ‘Hapsburg group’?

The indictment says the group was managed by a former European chancellor, who it names as Foreign Politician A, in coordination with Manafort.

While the former chancellor is not named in the filing, the head of government in both Austria and Germany is known as the chancellor.

What did the group actually do?

In 2013, the former chancellor and other former politicians from the group lobbied US Members of Congress, officials in the Executive Branch and their staff in coordination with Manafort, the indictment says. 

How much did the group get paid?

According to the filing, Manafort paid the group more than 2 million euros in 2012 and 2013, wiring the money through at least four offshore accounts.

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