Rick Gates Testifies That He Committed Crimes With Paul Manafort

08 August, 2018, 00:40 | Author: Carlos George
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His testimony is scheduled to continue on Tuesday.

Rick Gates, a longtime business associate of U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, on Monday testified at trial that he helped Manafort file false tax returns and did not disclose foreign bank accounts. Manafort stared at Gates as he began his evidence by detailing the plea deal, in which he admitted to two charges, one of conspiracy against the United States, and the other of making a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

On day five of the trial in Alexandria, Virginia, Gates was asked by the prosecutor whether he had committed any crimes with Mr Manafort, and he said: "Yes".

Special counsel Robert Mueller charged Gates and Paul Manafort previous year with dozens of counts related to their lobbying efforts on behalf of foreign governments.

Gates has read off the names of more than a dozen shell companies he and Manafort set up in Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United Kingdom to stash the proceeds of Manafort's Ukrainian political consulting work.

But Ms Laporta's testimony raised the stakes for Mr Manafort, legal experts said.

But Tuesday, Manafort did not stare Gates down.

"Were you involved in criminal activity when you worked for Paul Manafort?" asked a prosecutor.

Gates's testimony was a clinical examination of their business dealings as Greg D. Andres, the lead prosecutor, walked him through thick binders of financial documents and emails.

Nonetheless, jurors were told of more than $900,000 in expensive suits, a $15,000 ostrich jacket and lavish properties replete with expensive audio and video systems, a tennis court encircled by hundreds of flowers and, as one witness put it, "one of the bigger ponds in the Hamptons".

Gates' potential sentence would dramatically increase, the jury was told, if he was untruthful on the witness stand.

Andres told the judge that he expects to question Gates for two more hours when the trial is gaveled in again Tuesday.

That second part is true - kind of.

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In one instance, he acknowledged having produced a fake loan forgiveness letter between Manafort's consulting company and a Cypriot entity he controlled. On Monday, he admitted in court to embezzling thousands of dollars from his former boss, and said that the two of them had committed crimes together.

Ellis said all that's relevant is that Manafort was paid and whether he hid the income from the IRS.

When one of the defense lawyers tried to suggest to Manafort's tax accountant Monday that Gates had kept Manafort in the dark about his own finances, the accountant, Cynthia Laporta, pushed back. Testifying under immunity, she was the first witness to admit she knew accounting manoeuvres Manafort and Gates requested of her were wrong and could be crimes.

He added he didn't receive any personal benefit for falsifying Manafort's loan applications.

The jury has heard how Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Ellis overruled the objection.

"A lot of these loan agreements are backdated", Gates said. But she noted that she couldn't imagine a scenario where she would have learned Gates was doing that.

Throughout his testimony, Gates largely avoided making eye contact with Manafort, who appeared to be watching him.

That's because she was what's called a "summary witness", which is a person, usually a government official, who is called to testify about facts and records they have tracked down. It is unclear what other information he may have provided to Mueller's team.

On Friday, a tax preparer named Cindy Laporta admitted that she helped disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan to reduce Manafort's tax burden.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 bank and tax fraud charges and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

"Have they confronted you with so many lies that you can't remember?"

But ownership of an account can include "indirect ownership", Liss noted.

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