President Lenin Moreno said Monday that Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign manager, accompanied a group of Chinese businessmen interested in buying Ecuador’s national power company in a May meeting that he hosted.
Moreno was president-elect at the time.
“The meeting was short and uneventful,” said Moreno. “I told the delegation that our constitution prohibits the sale of a public utility so there was nothing more to discuss. Certainly, there was nothing to hide.”
The president’s explanation of the May meeting followed a demand by former president Rafael Correa that Moreno explain why he met with Manafort, who has since been indicted by a special U.S. prosecutor on money laundering charges and other counts tied to his work for Ukraine’s pro-Russian ruling party.
“It’s very worrying that there should be a meeting with types like Manafort and that it should be kept hidden from the Ecuadorian people,” Correa said in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press. “The people of Ecuador deserve an explanation.”
Moreno said he was sorry the truth was boring. “I understand the ex-president’s Correa’s desire for drama,” he said. “Unfortunately there is none here.”