WASHINGTON ― A lawyer for Paul Manafort, the former Donald Trump campaign manager who was indicted on federal charges last week, told a judge on Monday that Manafort is working with a company in Florida that’s developing secure, “virtually indestructible” cellphones. But the owner of Hoyos Integrity ― the telecommunications company that Manafort’s lawyer appears to have been referring to ― told HuffPost that Manafort hasn’t been associated with the business for months.
Manafort, who surrendered to the FBI last week after he was indicted on 12 federal charges, is currently on house arrest in Virginia with a GPS monitor on his left ankle. He’s trying to reach a bail agreement with prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller that could relax some of his pretrial conditions. Manafort is hoping he’ll be able to travel to New York and Florida, where he also has homes.
As an international consultant, he’s got a pretty decent business excuse for traveling to New York, which is where he sees clients. But finding a business-related reason to convince a judge to allow Manafort to travel to Florida ― where it was 83 degrees and sunny on Thursday ― is a bit tricky.
Kevin Downing, Manafort’s attorney, told U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson at a hearing about bail on Monday that Manafort needed to travel to Florida because he does “quite a bit of work” in Fort Lauderdale. There, Downing said, Manafort has “got a business” that is “developing secure cellphones” that are “relatively or virtually indestructible.”
Downing hasn’t responded to multiple requests from HuffPost for additional details on the business. But the company he was referring to appears to be Hoyos Integrity, which is run by Manafort’s longtime friend Hector Hoyos.
Hoyos Integrity matches up with the details of the company described in court. It has an office in Fort Lauderdale. It says it’s developing a “complete secure smartphone” that is “impenetrable” and “impervious to hacking.” Manafort was affiliated with a previous iteration of the company, and was temporarily listed as director earlier this year, as Politico reported in June. A business report for that company, filed before it morphed into Hoyos Integrity, lists Manafort’s name as director alongside the names of Hoyos Integrity’s current CEO, general counsel, chief financial officer and senior vice president of engineering.
Here’s the problem: Manafort’s friend Hector Hoyos, executive chairman and chief technology officer of Hoyos Integrity, says Manafort hasn’t been associated with the company in months. Hoyos said he has “no idea” what Manafort’s lawyer was referring to in court on Monday.
“Insofar as my company is concerned, Hoyos Integrity, he was a consultant of ours, but he’s not any longer,” Hoyos told HuffPost. “He has no relationship with us in any way, shape or form.”
There are a couple of other possible explanations for the claim Downing made in court. Maybe, while under a federal investigation that included a no-knock raid on his home, Manafort was able to form his own company, also based in Fort Lauderdale, that did basically the same thing as Hoyos Integrity, all without leaving a paper trail. Or maybe another Fort Lauderdale-based company that was also working on secure, virtually indestructible cellphones decided it would be a good idea to hire a man who was under federal investigation.
The second possibility, in fact, isn’t completely implausible. Both Hoyos and Frank Tobin, the CEO of Hoyos Integrity, told HuffPost that there might be other companies in Fort Lauderdale working on secure phones. There used to be a Motorola facility nearby.
“Google is there, a lot of companies are there,” Hoyos said.
“I’m sure there’s probably some more in Fort Lauderdale,” Tobin said.
But neither man knew anything about Manafort working for other companies. “Paul has a lot of different businesses, and I’m not privy to what they are,” Hoyos said.
But perhaps the more likely theory, based on Manafort’s history, is that Manafort is misleading his lawyer and the court. After all, the special counsel successfully fought to compel Manafort’s former attorney to testify before a grand jury, using the testimony to charge Manafort with lying to the federal government about his work for Ukraine.
Downing did not respond to multiple requests for comment this week. A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment on whether prosecutors were under the impression that Manafort is still working with Hoyos Integrity, or whether they were aware of the name of the company Manafort’s lawyer was referring to (if one exists).
Manafort owns a home about an hour north of Fort Lauderdale, in Palm Beach Gardens. Manafort’s team, which offered up the property as part of his bail package, claimed it was worth $1.5 million, while the special counsel team thinks it is worth closer to $1.25 million.
At the court hearing on Monday, a lawyer for the special counsel team said they believed they were “getting close” to reaching a bail agreement with Manafort’s team, but would need a bit more time. The special counsel team believes that Manafort’s team is overvaluing Manafort’s Trump Tower condo, which Manafort’s team claims is worth $6 million. The special counsel team found estimates that said it’s worth less than $3 million. Manafort and his wife, as it happens, have a $3 million mortgage on the condo, so it’s possible the property itself is worth less than the mortgage on it.
Hoyos, whose daughter is Manafort’s godchild, publicly revealed that he had cut business ties with Manafort long before the court appearance on Monday. Hoyos spoke with The New York Times for a story published after Manafort’s indictment last week in which he said Manafort was “sad” when Hoyos said they had to end their business relationship. Hoyos said Manafort apologized to him for creating problems.
Hoyos told HuffPost he’d be friends with Manafort “in good times and bad times” ― but business, he said, is a different story.
“One tries to keep friendship and business separate,” Hoyos said. “The reality is that things one has to do in business affect the friendship.”
Ryan Reilly is HuffPost’s senior justice reporter, covering criminal justice, federal law enforcement and legal affairs. Have a tip? Reach him at email@example.com or on Signal at 202-527-9261.