QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said Monday that he met with President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman this year together with a group of Chinese businessmen interested in acquiring a stake in the nation’s power company.
In a statement, Moreno said the meeting in Quito involved Paul Manafort and representatives of an unidentified Chinese company who proposed to privatize the state-owned National Electric Corp. He said the proposal was rejected because it would have violated Ecuador’s constitution.
Moreno, who didn’t say if any other issues were discussed, broke his silence about the May meeting with Manafort after being criticized by former President Rafael Correa.
“It’s very worrying that there should be a meeting with types like Manafort and that it should be kept hidden from the Ecuadorean people,” Correa said in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press.
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Manafort was recently indicted in the U.S. on money laundering charges and other counts tied to his work for Ukraine’s pro-Russian ruling party. According to court documents in the case, Manafort visited Ecuador using a phone registered under a false name and traveled on one of three U.S. passports he possesses before going to Mexico and China weeks later.
Manafort wasn’t under indictment at the time of his visit to Ecuador, and Moreno said the meeting with the former Trump adviser was one of many contacts he had as president-elect to court new economic and political partnerships.