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

Rick Gates Set to Testify Against Ex-Boss Paul Manafort

Rick Gates Set to Testify Against Ex-Boss Paul Manafort

Gates - who served on the 2016 Trump presidential campaign with Mr Manafort - told the court he had stolen from other employers, too.

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.

Prosecutors will turn to Gates for first-hand support of their accusations that Manafort concealed millions of dollars in foreign income and later lied when he applied for bank loans.

Manafort, a flamboyant figure in Washington for decades, became known for his consulting and lobbying work for ethically questionable worldwide leaders like Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych.

Gates laid responsibility squarely at Manafort's feet, bolstering the prosecution's case that Manafort was in full control of his finances and directing Gates' actions.

On Monday, Gates spoke in short, clipped answers as Manafort rarely broke his gaze from the witness stand, followed that of vendors who detailed Manafort's luxurious spending and financial professionals who told jurors how the defendant hid millions of dollars in offshore accounts.

Prosecutors say Manafort used those companies to stash millions of dollars from his Ukrainian consulting work, proceeds he omitted year-after-year from his income tax returns.

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.

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Gates told the jury that as part of his plea with prosecutors, he revealed several other crimes that were not previously known and that were not included in the federal indictments against him and Manafort.

Those admissions are likely to become a focal point for Manafort's defence team when he is cross examined on Tuesday. One accounting trick saved Manafort $US500,000 in taxes, she said. But Gates pleaded guilty months later and agreed to co-operate in Mueller's investigation of Manafort, the only American charged by the special counsel to opt for trial instead of a guilty plea.

When Andres tried to elicit testimony about the oligarchs' backgrounds and why they paid Manafort millions of dollars for his political advice, Ellis urged Andres to "go to the heart of the matter". Gates also worked for the Trump election campaign.

But Tuesday, Manafort did not stare Gates down. Similar to prior witnesses, Laporta testified that Gates and Manafort were in lockstep but that Manafort was in charge.

On Monday, Ms LaPorta was asked by prosecutors if she had been aware of a $10m loan from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska that the district attorney said was "supposedly made in 2006".

"Were you engaged in criminal activity during your time working for Mr. Manafort?" One accounting trick saved Manafort $500,000 in taxes, she said.

After that, Gates sent her a document dated March 6, 2014, that purported to represent a $900,000 loan from a Cyprus entity, Telmar Limited, to Manafort's company.

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