Paul Manafort's defense attorney Thomas Zehnle said that it was Ukrainian business associates, Ukrainian oligarchs, who asked his client to receive payments via secret foreign accounts.

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"This is the way that they required it to be done," Zehnle said in his opening statement for the defense on Tuesday, July 31, the Ukrainian news outlet Ukrayinska Pravda reported.

According to the investigation, Manafort in Ukraine collaborated with ex-president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, former head of his presidential administration Serhiy Lyovochkin and Ukrainian tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, as well as with other allies of Yanukovych.

Donald Trump's former election campaign chief and lobbyist for Yanukovych in the United States received ledger payouts for his services in Ukraine. Manafort is said to have earned US$60 million in Ukraine.

As UNIAN reported earlier, the trial of Manafort began on July 31. He is accused of money laundering and tax evasion for almost a decade of cooperation with the former Ukrainian leaders.

The federal prosecutor said that Manafort had more than 30 foreign bank accounts in three countries, allowing him to hide income earned in Ukraine.