Manafort's 'right-hand man' to testify at fraud trial

The statue of Justice outside the Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse is reflected in a television news camera lens on the second day of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s trial

Manafort's 'right-hand man' to testify at fraud trial

On Wednesday, prosecutors revealed in court that the former Trump campaign chairman, who's on trial for bank and tax fraud, spent almost $1 million from 2009 to 2014 on clothing at Alan Couture, a luxury menswear store in NY.

Prosecutors headed toward the heart of their financial fraud case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Friday, with jurors hearing testimony that he never told his tax accountants about offshore bank accounts containing millions of dollars. Prosecutors say between 2010 and 2014, Manafort made $60 million working for the Ukrainian government, hiding millions in foreign accounts so he didn't have to report his earnings to the IRS, and in 2015, Manafort's major client, former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, left for Russian Federation amid protests against the governor. Another series of emails warned him of an upcoming deadline to pay property taxes on one of his homes in NY before penalties kicked in.

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia - On Friday, Cindy Laporta, a longtime accountant for Paul Manafort, admitted to helping Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, falsify financial documents in an effort to commit tax fraud. Laporta, looking at a summary of loans to Manafort and his businesses, said she could not see any indication that the loan from Deripaska had been paid off.

"It's the president's opinion", she said. So she went ahead and filed the false tax return. She said, "It's not appropriate. you can't pick and choose".

During the conference call, Laporta said Gates asked Manafort's tax preparers to alter the amount of a loan so that Manafort would owe less in income taxes. When Manafort and his partners, including longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, set up their consulting firm in the 1980s, their first client was none other than Donald Trump.

Manafort signed the backdated loan document, she testified. They were booked to the same Cyprus entity, bringing the total to $1.9 million.

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When prosecutor Greg Andres read off some of the companies to Manafort's bookkeeper, she said Manafort never told her about them. Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye if she believed it was forgiven, she said: "Uh, no".

"Did you believe those representations?"

Prosecutors allege that Manafort financed a lavish lifestyle featuring sumptuous residences and extravagant wardrobes by using millions of dollars in profits that he hid from tax authorities then turned to bank fraud when his income started to dry up.

The jury also heard from several money managers contracted to keep tabs on Manafort's cash flow.

Besides Ms. Laporta, four other witnesses have been given limited grants of immunity to testify against Mr. Manafort.

Specifically, Laporta testified that Gates said Manafort's tax bill was "too high" and that Manafort "didn't have the money" to pay it.

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Gates, who already pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of lying to federal investigators, is the prosecution's star witness and may testify against Manafort.

Tax evasion is also one of the charges Manafort now faces in his federal trial, along with bank fraud, as The Washington Post noted. The charges largely predate his five months on the Trump campaign but were the first to go to trial arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

The criminal case has nothing to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign and there's been no discussion during the trial about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian Federation — the central question Mueller's team has tried to answer. She said Manafort came to her with the request because Washkuhn would not comply with it. All of those vendors testified that Manafort often paid with wire transfers from offshore bank accounts, which they told jurors was an "unusual method" of payment, CNN reported.

Manafort's attorneys do not seem to have scored a lot of points on cross-examination, Futterman said, but added that the witnesses who have testified so far are not "the main targets". Mr. Manafort's lawyers are hoping to show that Mr. Gates is the real culprit and that Mr. Manafort is guilty of no more than negligence for not paying greater attention to Mr. Gates and other employees. He said he would talk to Gates about Manafort's tax returns because Manafort had authorized it.

The letter was back-dated almost eight months earlier and included no signatures. The same court documents note that Gates "with Manafort's knowledge and agreement, repeatedly misled Manafort's accountants, including by not disclosing Manafort's overseas accounts and the income".

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Gates is considered the prosecution's star witness given his deep ties to Manafort and his past work on the Trump campaign. Earlier Monday, Ellis threatened to kick reporters out of the courtroom if they continue being "disruptive".

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