Tuesday, 14 August, 2018

Star witness Rick Gates testifies against former boss Paul Manafort

Thomas Zehnle second from right attorney for Paul Manafort walks with other members of the defense team to Alexandria Federal Courthouse in Alexandria Va. Monday Aug. 6 2018. Manafort President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman is on Rick Gates Set to Testify Against Ex-Boss Paul Manafort
Lisa Bryan | 07 August, 2018, 05:25

Manafort's attorneys have signaled they will seek to blame Gates and have accused him of embezzling millions of dollars from Manafort.

Gates testified that Manafort told him to report overseas income as loans to lower Manafort's taxable income, supporting the testimony of his accountant.

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.

Gates then admitted that he also turned the tables on Manafort - cheating him out of "several hundred thousand" dollars by submitting false expense reports that were paid out of some of the undisclosed foreign bank accounts in Cyprus.

Gates also testified that both he and Manafort had control over the foreign accounts, as well as Manafort's business associate Konstantin Kilimnik. Gates has been described by witnesses as Manafort's right-hand man who helped run the operations of a multimillion-dollar political consulting business.

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

"I was the one who helped organize the paperwork and initiate the wire transfers", Gates said, describing Manafort's use of unregistered Cypriot bank accounts to collect political consulting payments from Ukrainian oligarchs.

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

Gates also testified he and Manafort knew it was a crime because they had been notified by Manafort's accountants in emails.

Paul Manafort's longtime deputy has been called to the witness stand to testify against the former Trump campaign chairman.


One accounting trick saved Mr Manafort $US500,000 ($676,907) in taxes, she said. In exchange, the government promised not to bring additional charges against him and drop a second indictment against him on tax and bank fraud charges.

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

Instead, prosecutors called a different witness named Paula Liss.

Prosecutors said last week that they meant to call him to the stand before resting their case this week. The judge twice requested the lawyers to his bench, out of the earshot of the jury and the public, to discuss their approach to questioning.

The President is watching proceedings carefully as Mueller appears to be moving closer to his inner circle on multiple fronts and has complained that Manafort has been treated like a mobster - even as the White House has tried to open up some distance between Trump and his former campaign chairman.

Manafort attorney Kevin Downing says that Rick Gates will testify at the conclusion of the testimony of Manafort's tax preparer.

Gates came out swinging from the witness box. It's the first of Mueller's prosecutions to reach a jury, but lawyers have made no mention of President Donald Trump or possible campaign coordination with the Kremlin. His testimony, given in short, clipped answers as Manafort rarely broke his gaze from the witness stand, follows 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.

Downing also accused Gates of embezzling "millions", a higher amount than Gates later admitted to in his testimony.

Manafort, Gates said, was probably the "most politically brilliant strategist I've ever worked with".

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