Not Filing FBAR Lands Manafort in Prison


Paul J. Manafort Jr., President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, who was found guilty of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to file foreign bank account reports (FBAR) last August.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis sentenced Manafort to 47 months in prison, well below the sentence that prosecutors had sought.

NotFiling FBAR Can Land You in Prison

Allegations of failure to file foreign bank account reports (FBAR) rest on proving a money trail. If a United States citizen has a financial interest in or signatory authority over any bank account or other financial account held in foreign countries, if the balance exceeds $10,000 at any time during the year, it must be reported.

The government had to prove that Manafort had authority over foreign accounts for a jury to find him guilty of failing to report those accounts. That’s likely where some of the multiple entities Manafort and Gates allegedly set up helped Manafort’s defense: If the jury found that Gates had been responsible for some of the accounts, or if it was not clear whether Manafort had authority over those accounts, then he could not be found guilty of failing to report. In the end, the jury found Manafort guilty of one count of failure to report.

Length of Sentencing

All of those charges against Manafort, according to court documents, were offense level 4. Typically, the more serious the crime, the higher base offense levels.

Federal sentencing guidelines provide 43 levels of offense seriousness, but additional factors, such as the amount of a financial loss, can increase or decrease the base offense level and the sentence an offender receives. 

If he had been found guilty of all of the charges against him, Manafort, who is 69, could have been sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. However, the jury could not reach a decision on all of the charges. For the eight counts, prosecutors argued that Manafort deserved to spend between 19 and 25 years in prison and pay millions of dollars in fines and restitution for the crimes. At sentencing, Prosecutor Greg Andres asked the Judge for a “substantial” sentence while Manafort’s attorney, Tom Zehnle, argued for leniency. Manafort also spoke on his own behalf.