Published: Thu, August 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Gates says Manafort told him to be truthful to Federal Bureau of Investigation

Gates says Manafort told him to be truthful to Federal Bureau of Investigation

Defence attorneys for Donald Trump's former campaign chief Paul Manafort, on trial for tax and bank fraud, sought to shred the credibility of the prosecution's key witness on Tuesday, forcing him to reveal that he had an extramarital affair and stole money from his boss.

During his three days of testimony, Gates laid out in detail how payments to Manafort's company from political work in Ukraine were made to bank accounts in Cyprus and the money was never reported to accountants or the Internal Revenue Service. Gates recounted how he and Manafort used more than a dozen offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while concealing the accounts and the income from the IRS.

Manafort's political work included advising Viktor Yanukovich on policy after he won the Ukrainian presidency, Gates said.

Prosecutor Greg Andres had objected to the defense using the affair against Gates, saying the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled "that if somebody cheats on their wife or whatever, it's not necessarily indicative of truthfulness".

When asked if he took "unauthorized expenses" from Manafort to "fund your separate secret life", Gates replied, "yes, I acknowledge I had a period of time where I had another relationship".

During his review, he said, he discovered that numerous foreign wire transfers did not appear on general ledgers for Manafort's political consultancy and therefore, "I was not able to trace it into the tax return".

Manafort defense attorney Kevin Downing tried to confront Gates over whether he had engaged in four extra-marital affairs and failed to disclose them to prosecutors before becoming a witness for the government. He also admitted to embezzling money from other employers in the past.

On re-direct from the prosecution, Magionos agreed that two of Manafort's signatures on the same foreign bank document appeared different - implying that he didn't always sign his name the same way.

"Downing, I'd say I made many mistakes, over many years".

Gates' ongoing testimony on Tuesday - the sixth day of Manafort's fraud trial - came one day after he testified that he'd committed crimes with Manafort.

Gates, who worked as Manafort's right-hand man for a decade, served as deputy chairman of the Trump campaign.

As part of his plea agreement to cooperate with prosecutors, Gates also admitted to lying to investigators from the special counsel's office - a fact Downing also seized upon.

The judge overseeing the Paul Manafort trial, U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis, has clashed with prosecutors in recent days.

"I think the jury will hate (Gates), but they should still convict (Manafort) because of the testimony of other witnesses and the other documents that do put all of this on Manafort".

Rick Gates leaves federal court in Washington, Feb. 23, 2018.

The tough questioning of Gates came after he spent hours telling jurors how he disguised millions of dollars in foreign income as loans in order to lower Manafort's tax bill. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting he has been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.

Fox News' Judge Andrew Napolitano told Dana Perino that he found Rick Gates to be a convincing witness, while pointing out that everything that Gates did seems "an encyclopedic example of the swamp that President Trump said he would drain". Mr Gates also said he may have submitted personal expenses for reimbursement by Mr Trump's inaugural committee, which he helped operate.

Welch said he arrived at the $16.5 million figure based on an accounting method used by Manafort.

FBI forensic accountant Morgan Magionos walked jurors through her special counsel-ordained investigation that revealed how Manafort purchased luxury goods back in the US through foreign bank accounts.

Cindy Laporta, a tax accountant for Manafort, testified Monday under immunity that she helped file falsified bank loan applications for him even though she knew they were inaccurate.

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