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Rick Gates Testifies That He Committed Crimes With Paul Manafort

Rick Gates Testifies That He Committed Crimes With Paul Manafort”

The day featured the defense's cross-examination of Cindy Laporta, the onetime Trump campaign chairman's former accountant and tax preparer; testimony from a Treasury Department employee who researched whether Manafort had filed reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, or FBARs; and Manafort's former deputy, Rick Gates.

Gates is the government's star witness in its case against Manafort, who is accused of bank and tax fraud.

Rick Gates has been regarded as a crucial government witness ever since he pleaded guilty a year ago and agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

They also failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent, Gates said.

"We didn't report the income or the foreign bank accounts", Gates told jurors, noting that he knew he and Manafort were committing crimes each time.

In just a little over an hour of questioning, Gates told the prosecution that Manafort directed him to open up accounts in Cyprus so that the Ukrainian politicians who paid Manafort's DMP International consulting firm for its campaign work could funnel millions of dollars to him.

Gates and Manafort have known each other for two decades and ran a multimillion-dollar political consulting business.

Throughout his testimony, Gates largely avoided making eye contact with Manafort, who appeared to be watching him. "He said that he was indicted with Paul Manafort on bank and tax fraud charges, and he is guilty of all those charges". Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax and bank fraud.

Gates' testimony is expected to be the key focal point of the Manafort trial, the first that Mueller's team has brought before a jury as part of the broad investigation into Russian election interference in 2016.

Prosecutors say this work resulted in earnings of around $60m (£46m) and that a "significant percentage" of this was omitted from Manafort's income tax returns.

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 told the courtroom that Manafort asked Gates to change certain things in order to obtain loans after the Ukraine income dried up in 2014.

The trial opened last week with a display of Manafort's opulent lifestyle, then progressed into testimony about what prosecutors say were years of financial deception. Testifying under immunity, she was the first witness to admit she knew accounting manoeuvres Manafort and Gates requested of her were wrong and could be crimes.

The criminal case against Manafort 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 co-ordinated with Russian Federation - the central question Mueller's team has tried to answer.

Asked whether the money in the accounts was Manafort's income, Gates said, "it was".

Ms LaPorta told the court on Friday she had suspected Gates was misleading her about Mr Manafort's finances.

Prosecutors allege he dodged taxes on millions of dollars he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party.



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