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Rick Gates returns to witness stand to detail Manafort’s finances

Rick Gates returns to witness stand to detail Manafort’s finances

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.

In the telling of Manafort's legal team, any problems with his financial paperwork were either mistakes or the fault of Gates, who they say was stealing from Manafort and is now cooperating with investigators to cover his tracks.

Gates took the stand late in the day Monday, drawing gasps from the courtroom in Alexandria, Va., when his name was announced as the next witness.

The witness also testified he had helped the defendant file false tax returns, concealing 15 foreign accounts from the United States government despite knowing it was illegal.

He has also told jurors that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years as part of the offshore payment structure.

Gates and Manafort purposely lied to Manafort's accountants, telling them he had no foreign accounts or interests, Gates said. One accounting trick saved Manafort $500,000 in taxes, she said.

On Monday, Gates spoke in short, clipped answers as Manafort rarely broke his gaze from the witness stand, followed 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.

Rick Gates, who also served on Trump's campaign team, pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors under a deal that could lead to a reduced sentence.

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

Gates also testified that he helped Manafort illegally file false tax returns by lying to his accountants about Manafort's assets and liabilities, as well as the existence of the foreign bank accounts.

He has tweeted support for his former campaign manager, suggesting he has been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.

During Manafort's trial, Greg D. Andres and other prosecutors have tried to illustrate the corrupt nature of the Ukrainian politicians and oligarchs Manafort worked with-and Judge T.S. Ellis has discouraged such testimony.

He testified about a complex scheme in which earnings from Manafort's political work in Ukraine would be paid by Ukrainian businessmen using companies in Cyprus to other Cyprus-based companies controlled by Manafort.

"When we try to describe the work, Your Honor stops us and tell us to move on", he said.

On Monday, Gates described his history of working with Manafort, his plea deal and how Manafort's consulting business operated in Ukraine.

"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans".

All told, prosecutors allege that Manafort failed to report a "significant percentage" of the more than $60 million they say he received from Ukrainians. Manafort attorney Kevin Downing will cross-examine Laporta, who is testifying under an immunity agreement because she feared prosecution for perjury or false statements.

Prosecutors are hoping that testimony from Gates, who has firsthand knowledge of Manafort's actions, will convince a jury of Manafort's guilt.

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