Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Gates testifies he and Manafort committed crimes

Gates testifies he and Manafort committed crimes

Rick Gates has testified that he and US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, committed crimes.

Gates made it through a little more than an hour's worth of questioning - which was interrupted repeatedly by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, who scolded prosecutors for certain topics of inquiry - that was focused mainly on the work he and Manafort did together in Ukraine that predated Trump's campaign.

Asonye followed up by asking, "Did you commit any crimes with Mr. Manafort?"

Gates, whose testimony in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, was continuing, was expected to be a star witness in the government's case, having pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors under a deal that could lead to a reduced sentence.

Laporta detailed multiple examples in which Manafort and Gates sought to doctor financial records, first in order to lower Manafort's taxable income and then later to inflate his income so that he could get bank loans.

Downing also attempted to show that Gates was the point person in dealing with the accountants. Later, they say, when that income dwindled, Manafort launched a different scheme, shoring up his struggling finances by using doctored documents to obtain millions more in bank loans.

Jurors will hear again Monday from Cynthia Laporta, an accountant who testified August 3 about going along with phony, backdated documents meant to help lower Manafort's tax bills and secure real-estate loans even as his personal debt rose.

Gates said that the foreign accounts were used to receive income they made from their work as political operatives in Ukraine. Last week, another Manafort attorney, Thomas Zehnle, depicted Gates as a liar who embezzled millions of dollars while going behind his boss's back. One is a bank employee who appears ready to address an alleged deal between his boss and Manafort, after the bank executive sought a role in the Trump campaign.

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Manafort's defense hinges on convincing a jury that it was Gates, not Manafort, who committed all of these crimes, and that Manafort is a victim of Gates.

Since he was high-level Trump staffer who is now cooperating with Mueller, Gates' testimony was highly anticipated and seen as key evidence in the case against Manafort.

Prosecutors on Monday went through a list of overseas corporations and Gates testified that all of them were controlled by Manafort and contained income earned by his political consulting work.

One accounting trick saved Mr Manafort $US500,000 ($676,907) in taxes, she said.

Gates testified that he and Manafort had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the USA government, and knew that was illegal.

Notably, after urging prosecutors to speed things along as jurors heard from 14 witnesses last week, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said late on August 3 that Downing could begin his questioning of Laporta on Monday and wouldn't rush him. Gates said that Manafort "asked me not to include certain things in the deposition".

When asked why had lied, he told prosecutors he had done so at Mr Manafort's request.

In stunning testimony at Manafort's trial on tax and fraud charges, Gates stated he and Manafort had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the federal government, and knew it was illegal.

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