Gates testifies he and Manafort committed crimes

Gates testifies he and Manafort committed crimes

Gates testifies he and Manafort committed crimes

Rick Gates, Manafort's former partner in crime (literally, it turns out), took the stand to detail the many shady sides of the global lobbying business he helped the ex-superlobbyist run for years.

Gates was expected to be a star witness in the government's case against Manafort having pleaded guilty in February and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors under a deal that could lead to a reduced sentence.

Rick Gates has been regarded as a crucial witness for the government ever since he pleaded guilty this year to two felony charges and agreed to co-operate in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

"Did you commit crimes with Mr. Manafort?" a prosecutor asked Gates.

While Gates already pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy against the United States and lying to the FBI, Monday's testimony marked his first time stating he committed crimes with another former Trump associate.

The hugely anticipated courtroom showdown brought Gates face-to-face with his longtime business associate and fellow Trump campaign aide. 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. Among the tax charges Manafort is facing in Virginia is failure to report the foreign bank 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.

Laporta also discussed problems that arose in February 2016 when Manafort needed cash and applied to Citizens Bank for a real-estate loan against property he owned in NY.

Gates also admitted he embezzled money from his boss - something Manafort's attorneys have alleged for months.

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Prosecutor Greg Andres ticked off a number of overseas entities that Gates said he and Manafort controlled.

Mr Mueller is also investigating possible coordination between Trump campaign members and Russian officials in the election campaign, but the charges against Mr Manafort do not address that.

Gates also said he had filed false expense reports when he worked for Manafort as a way to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from those accounts. In questioning Laporta on Monday, a prosecutor asked the accountant about a $10 million loan purportedly received by Manafort from Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska in 2006.

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.

Ms Laporta, looking at a summary of loans to Mr Manafort and his businesses, said she could not see any indication the loan from Mr Deripaska had been paid off.

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

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

"Gates is admitting to everything", Dilanian said.

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. Without smiling or pausing, he told the jury he had knowingly committed crimes "at Mr. Manafort's direction".

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