A top aide to Donald Trump had lobbied for a US-based outfit busted by authorities in 2011 for operating as a front for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, according to a Yahoo News report.
The aide, Paul Manafort, was part of the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, which was paid $700,000 by the Kashmiri American Council (KAC) between 1990 and 1995.
The KAC was shut down by the authorities in 2011 and the man who ran it, Ghulam Nabi Fai, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax fraud and was sentenced to two years in jail.
The KAC, which received money from the ISI through contacts in the US, lobbied the administration, lawmakers and opinion-makers for independence for Kashmir.
Manafort was hired recently by Trump specifically to prepare his campaign for a contested party convention that is most likely to settle the Republican presidential race.
Neither Manafort nor Trump has responded to the report.
But when asked about some of his controversial lobbying jobs, Manafort said in a TV interview, “I’m not working for any client right now other than working for Mr. Trump.”
Charlie Black, a partner in the lobbying firm who handled the KAC account, told Yahoo News they were not aware its funding was coming from the ISI.
“Nobody was more surprised than me that the guy was taking the money from Pakistan,” Black said in a telephone interview, according to Yahoo News. “We didn’t know anything about it.”
A former Pakistani official told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity that “those who dealt with him (Fai) knew” he was working with Manafort and his lobbying firm.