Paul Manafort, Trump's indicted former campaign manager, and his right-hand man Rick Gates approached 5W Public Relations CEO Ronn Torossian in 2012 to ask if he would work for them without registering with the Justice Dept. and agreeing to be paid via offshore accounts, according to Business Insider.
Torossian, who declined comment to O’Dwyer’s, told BI that he either met or spoke with Manafort and Gates multiple times to discuss a PR campaign “for billionaires and the Ukraine government.” They acted “like they controlled the government of Ukraine,” he said.
The 5W chief turned down potential Manafort/Gates work, telling BI that he “was uncomfortable” about dodging the Foreign Agents Registration Act and receiving payment from offshore accounts.
Torossian has represented ex-Trump advisor Felix Sater, Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko and Eric Trump’s foundation.
Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty to charges lodged by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Those charges include failing to file reports from foreign bank accounts and filing false or misleading statements about their lobbying work.