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Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after a bond hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts(reuters_tickers)
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. District judge again declined to ease bail conditions for President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business associate Richard Gates on Monday, saying they still needed to provide more financial information.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she was concerned about some of the $12 million in assets that Manafort had offered as security to get the court to lift house arrest and allow him to stop wearing an electronic monitoring device.
Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty to a 12-count indictment as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and potential collusion with Trump associates.
They are charged with conspiring to launder money, conspiracy against the United States and failing to register as foreign agents of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.
Jackson said she was especially worried about life insurance policies Manafort had offered as part of an effort to secure better bail conditions.
The policies, valued at about $4.5 million are held in trust and in his wife's name. But having a relative serving as a surety, or a guarantor of the policy, Jackson said, "is very problematic." Anyone serving in this capacity needs to provide details about their assets and liabilities, she said.
Life insurance policies held in trust tend to have many restrictions and can also be subject to asset forfeiture in the case of a conviction, the judge said.
"A lot of these details need to be nailed down" she said.
Prosecutors also say they are not yet satisfied they have enough details on how to value Manafort's properties, including a condo he has in Trump Tower, the president's signature building in New York.
Manafort, a longtime Republican operative, ran Trump's presidential campaign for several months last year.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied meddling in the election. Trump has denied collusion between his associates and Russia, calling the investigations a witch hunt.
The judge last week also denied requests from Manafort and Gates for an easing of their bail conditions.
On Monday, she said she is not very likely to grant any requests for the freedom to travel internationally and is inclined to require the pair to stay in the Washington area for work, unless such trips are cleared in advance.
Currently, Manafort has promised to pay $10 million and Gates $5 million if they fail to appear for future court appearances.
Manafort is seeking permission to travel to New York where he has clients, as well as Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where his attorney Kevin Downing said he has a telecommunications business involving secure and "virtually indestructible" cell phones.
A spokesman for Manafort could not immediately provide details on the business when asked by Reuters on Monday.
The judge also held off on setting a future trial date, and ordered the parties to return for a status hearing on Dec. 11.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Alistair Bell)