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  1. #16

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    Day 4 Part 4

    4:11 p.m. Accountant: Questionable loan saved Manafort $400,000 to $500,000 in taxes


    Paul Manafort likely saved between $400,000 and $500,000 in taxes after his top deputy concocted a $900,000 loan to include on his business’s 2015 tax return, one of Manafort’s accountants testified Friday.

    Cindy Laporta said the loan reduced Manafort’s income by $900,000, and at his tax rate, that would have resulted in a nearly half-million dollar savings. The testimony is important in that it shows the financial motivation that prosecutors say Manafort had to cook the books.

    Laporta has been perhaps the most notable witness of the trial’s fourth day, essentially admitting she went along with tax fraud by Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. And through her testimony, prosecutors were able to show jurors documents that support their case.

    One document, which prosecutors called an “adjusted trial balance,” showed how Manafort’s business, DMP International, initially made no reference to the $900,000 loan he would later claim on his taxes. But in a column for adjusted items, the $900,000 loan appeared. To support the change, an item initially listed as $900,000 in “other income” was reclassified as a loan in the books at Manafort’s business, Laporta testified.

    Laporta testified she did not believe such a loan actually existed, because the first she heard of it was in a September 2015 conversation with Manafor’ts business partner Rick Gates. She said she asked Gates for documentation of it, and he provided just two pages, apparently documenting a March 2014 loan agreement between DMP International and a company called Telmar Limited. Prosecutors have alleged Telmar is a Cyprus company that Manafort controlled.

    Notably, the loan document bore what Laporta said was Manafort’s signature.
    That is important because defense attorneys have sought to blame financial malfeasance on Gates, and much of Laporta’s testimony has focused on her interactions with him. Manafort’s signature would link him directly to the episode.

    4:38 p.m.: Email cast doubt on Paul Manafort’s defense

    Prosecutors provided email evidence to link Manafort to the misdeeds that Manafort’s defense attorneys have sought to blame on Gates.In one exchange following discussions about the loans, Manafort emails the accountant.

    “Cindy, Have you what you need from Rick?” he wrote. Manafort then told her to call Gates, so he could move it “forward.”

    4:54 p.m.: Accountant testifies she helped falsify documents to help Manafort get loans

    Cindy Laporta is now testifying that she was involved the falsification of documents to help Paul Manafort obtain loans.

    First, she said that although documents from Manafort’s bookkeeper showed that a property he owned in Lower Manhattan was being used as a rental in 2015 — he made $116,000 in income while also claiming depreciation — she told an employee of Citizens Bank it was a second home because Manafort could “get a better rate” on a long that way.

    Next, she testified that the same bank employee, David Fallarino, said Manafort needed more “liquidity” to qualify for a loan.

    “The bank wanted to see more money available to pay back the loan,” she said.

    So, she reached out to Gates, who told her a $1.5 million loan from Peranova Holdings in 2012 had been forgiven in 2015. She told that to Fallarino, who asked for “color” — ie, documentation.

    Asked who directed her to say the loan was forgiven, she said “Mr. Manafort or Mr. Gates.” She relied on “their word,” she said.

    Given her experience with the Telmar loan, prosecutor Uzo Asonye asked, did Laporta believe the loan had really been forgiven in 2015?

    “Uh… no,” she replied.

    When she asked for documentation, Gates told her he would send a draft and then the final version. Laporta said that was a good idea; under questioning from Judge Ellis she said she didn’t remember why she asked for a draft.
    Gates sent her a Word document on Feb. 8, 2016, with that date in the file name. It was a letter from Peranova Holdings claiming the $1.5 million loan was forgiven on June 23, 2015.

    Laporta believed “it was false” she said, “because of the dates.” She did not modify the document, *she said after a pause, because* “I wanted it to be the client’s document.”

    Her implication was that she did not want to be more complicit in fraud than she already was.

    Asked directly if she used the document in the bank negotiations despite believing it to be false, Laporta said, “Yes.”


    5:05 p.m.: Accountant made call to help Manafort with loan

    Accountant Cindy Laporta has testified at length Friday about how Rick Gates sent her backdated documents in an effort to help Paul Manafort pay less in taxes and secure loans. In one such effort, Laporta said Manafort turned to her when his bookkeeper wouldn’t help.

    The episode occurred in 2016, as Manafort was trying to get a loan from Federal Savings Bank, Laporta testified. At the time, Manafort’s company, DMP International, had losses of $638,000 on its profits and loss statement.

    Laporta said – and emails show — Manafort contacted the accountant about obtaining a profits and loss statement that would reflect $2.4 million in income he earned in Ukraine and expected to be deposited in November. His bookkeeper, Laporta testified, would not note the income because she only counted cash once he had come in.

    Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye whether she believed Manafort actually was getting the money, Laporta responded, “I had no idea.” She said she asked for supporting documents.

    Laporta said she never sent a profits and loss statement as Manafort requested, because she never got documents. But on August 11, 2016, she emailed Federal Savings Bank to say that Manafort expected the $2.4 million deposit. She testified that Manafort had directed her to do so.


    5:09 p.m.: Testimony ends for day after defense wants weekend to prepare to question accountant

    Asked if he would be able to finish his cross-examination by 5:15, Kevin Downing said he would be more “efficient” if he had the weekend to prepare.

    Ellis told him that, despite anything he may have said implying otherwise, Downing is “not limited” in using the fact that Cindy Laporta testified under immunity from prosecution.

    “She said on the stand she took responsibility, but she didn’t get prosecuted,” Ellis said. “I don’t know if there were professional consequences — that’s for you to find out.”

    Prosecutors ended the day by saying they would not release the Manaforts’ tax returns yet, although they were entered into evidence yesterday, because defense attorneys have some concerns about personal information included.

    Ellis said they can work that out, but “ultimately these tax returns are going to be in the public record. Once it becomes an exhibit in a trial, I think it has to be public.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...=.5b91a1faf1bc
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  2. #17

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    A WaPo reader posted the following using the online name "hung quoc nguyen"

    1. Part: Manafort trial - ABOUT Judge T. S. Ellis.

    This is a very detailed article and I thank you the 4 reporters.

    Now - I need you all 4 reporters to READ CAREFULLY WHAT I AM ABOUT TO TELL YOU. I used to be Tax auditor and specialised in corporate taxation, off shore accounts. I have 3 years ago *inspired* and *encouraged* a colleague of yours to keep digging about TRUMP FOUNDATION (foundations, trusts ect. also my specialty). Look - what he achieves - Pulitzer prize.

    Now to the matter:

    A. Judge T. S. Ellis is an idiot, clearly no understanding for White collar crime, ESPECIALLY TAX EVASION.

    *........Judge T.S. Ellis III made the same point, summarizing the defense as, “There’s a trail in these documents that would lead to the truth, and somebody who violated the law wouldn’t have done that.”.

    No - judge (!) Ellis - it is EXACTLY THE MODUS OPERANDI for people attempting tax evasion. The part that YOU DON’T GET, is they DO NOT SHOW THE OTHER PART OF THE PAPER TRAIL, WHICH IS THE EXPENSE DOCUMENTATION.

    THE FIRST PART (or more correctly the ONE INDEPENDENT LEG) OF PAPER TRAIL is to show - where they *TRANSFORM* INCOME TO LOAN - IN ORDER TO AVOID THE TAXING OF ACTUAL INCOME. THE PAPER TRAIL IS TO SHOW *THE LOANS*.

    B. The second error from Judge Ellis.

    Manafort NEEDED TO SHOW SOME FORM OF INCOME TO AVOID IRS’ DETECTION. THE PAPER TRAIL WAS THEREFORE NECESSARY. OTHERWISE IT WOULD BE HARD FOR MANAFORT TO EXPLAIN THE LAVISH LIFESTYLE.

    ACTUALLY JUDGE ELLIS IS ALSO VERY DUMB HERE WHEN HE CUT OF THE PROSECUTOR FROM SHOWING PICTURES OF ALL THE EXPENSIVE CLOTHES ECT. IT IS NOT ABOUT TO GUILT THE RICH BUT TO BUILD UP EXPENDITURE OF THE WHOLE HOUSEHOLD MANAFORT. WITH SUCH HUGE SUM EXPENDITURE EXCEED HIS TAXABLE INCOME, THEN WHERE ARE THEY ?

    Once again Ellis shows ignorance of White collar crime. I have noticed this but I wait for the real burger and it is his statement about paper trail, that I have enough of him.
    I have no idea if he's right or wrong. I do know that Ms Laporta is very lucky she was granted immunity. WHOA!!!

    I also wonder if she will face professional repercussions.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  3. #18

  4. #19

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    Quote Originally Posted by Ribbons View Post
    Colbert's team mashes together Manafort w/ "Take on Me"...

    https://twitter.com/colbertlateshow/...57835276124161

    (h/t @mbdigital001 on Twitter)
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  5. #20

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    A different summary on Day 4:

    Thread by @renato_mariotti: "THREAD:

    1/ Today prosecutors presented the most important and damning evidence to date of Manafort’s guilt, including the testimony of an accountant (Cindy Laporta) who admitted to committing crimes in order to help her client (Manafort) make money. “I very much regret it,” she said.

    2/ LaPorta said that she falsified a loan amount at Gates’ request to help Manafort. That’s tax fraud by an accountant. On Monday, you can expect the defense to ask her tough questions about the immunity she received. (They’ll call it a “get out of jail free card.”)

    3/ They’ll also try to suggest that the tax fraud was Gates’ idea and Manafort wasn’t aware of it. Unfortunately for Manafort, she also admitted to committing other crimes on his behalf. For example, she admitted sending a bank a letter she knew was doctored. That’s bank fraud.

    4/ The defense is going to attack the prosecution for giving Gates and Laporta deals while prosecuting Manafort. My guess is that Laporta will come off as a sympathetic figure who went along with a crime to help Manafort. That said, she is very lucky she wasn’t charged.

    5/ The immunity she received is an amazing deal. The defense will argue that it gave her an incentive to lie. (They will do the same when Gates testifies, even though he pleaded guilty to felonies, because he got a deal that will reduce his sentence.)


    6/ Another tax preparer testified Manafort told them that he had no foreign bank accounts. Prosecutors entered emails from Manafort into evidence saying as much, which is in my view the most damning evidence the prosecution has. Failing to disclose foreign accounts is a crime.

    7/ It is very hard for me to see how Manafort can beat the charges for failing to disclose foreign accounts. Those are the type of crimes that prosecutors love to charge because they’re so straightforward.

    8/ The tax preparer also testified that Gates told them Manafort had no foreign accounts. The defense can use that to blame Gates, but that doesn’t get around the emails from Manafort lying about the foreign accounts, which is why they’re so good for prosecutors.

    9/ Nonetheless today’s testimony showed why Gates will be important. I expect that he’ll testify that Manafort knew about all of the fraud and instructed him to facilitate his fraud. That’s why the defense is coming at Gates so hard and why emails directly from Manafort are key.

    10/ The tax preparer also testified that Manafort told him to lie to the bank about whether his Trump Tower property was a rental. That’s also bank fraud. Manafort has to convince the jury that this preparer, among with Laporta, is a liar or somehow mistaken. That will be hard.

    11/ Today’s testimony strongly suggests that I was right to predict yesterday that Manafort won’t take the stand. It will be too hard for him to explain away all of the documents, emails, and testimony establishing his guilt.

    12/ The testimony and documents from Day Four is the meat of the prosecution’s evidence as to several of the many fraud counts. That evidence, not the lavish spending, is what will sink Manafort. Fraud cases are all about proving that the defendant knowingly lied to get money.

    13/ There will be fireworks when Gates testifies, and the cross of Laporta will be important, although the defense has to be careful not to come across as mean to her. But the evidence thus far already appears too much for the defense to overcome absent some major surprise.


    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1...296342021.html

    There is more from CNN at the link.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  6. #21

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    Rick Gates — and the lies he’s admitted telling — to take center stage at Manafort trial


    Rick Gates, seen here in February, departs Federal District Court in Washington. Gates is expected to testify soon against his former boss and business partner, Paul Manafort. (Alex Brandon/AP)

    By Devlin Barrett
    August 5 at 7:37 PM

    Whom to believe — the accused liar, or the admitted one? A Virginia jury is expected to wrestle with that question this week, when it is scheduled to hear testimony from the former protege of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman now facing trial on bank fraud and tax *charges.

    Rick Gates worked for years as Manafort’s right-hand man, *managing his clients, his business, and his accounts. He also served as a senior Trump campaign aide and played a major role in planning the 2017 inauguration. This week, Gates begins a new role: star witness against his former boss and business partner.

    The Manafort trial, which began last week, is the first public test of the work done by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is tasked with uncovering any wrongdoing surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the president has obstructed justice. Though this case is not about Russia or possible election conspiracy, it has captured Trump’s attention. Since the trial began, Trump has denounced what he calls the unfair treatment of Manafort and called for the Mueller probe to be shut down immediately. Aides insisted the president’s comments were an opinion, not an order.

    Gates’s testimony against Manafort, which could happen as early as Monday, will do more than lay bare the end of a long relationship that made both men millions of dollars as political consultants. The prosecution’s theory is that, time after time, Manafort instructed Gates to lie, and many of those lies were crimes. If the jury agrees, Manafort, 69, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

    Gates, 46, already is likely headed to prison. Under the terms of a plea deal struck earlier this year, he faces about five years behind bars. But a judge could give him less time if prosecutors decide he provided “substantial assistance” to the special counsel’s office.

    Gates’s testimony “will *certainly be the climax” of the Manafort trial, said Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor now at the McCarter & English law firm.

    “Rick Gates is a double-edged sword,” said Mintz. “He had *access to much if not all of the business dealings that form the substance of the charges, but that also gives the defense the opportunity to try to convince jurors that he manipulated the evidence to protect his own skin and to paint Manafort as the fall guy. The defense will go after him with a vengeance.”

    Gates spent the bulk of his career working in Manafort’s shadow, beginning as a research assistant in the 1990s. He left Manafort’s firm for a time to work for companies in the lottery and gaming business, but the two reunited in 2006 when Manafort began doing political consulting work for Viktor Yanukovych, an ambitious politician in Ukraine whose election as president in 2004 had been overturned because of widespread electoral fraud.

    When Yanukovych became president in 2010, that work became incredibly lucrative, and the two men made tens of millions of dollars from the client dubbed Manafort’s “golden goose” by one of their colleagues.

    Investigators, however, say the pair not only made millions, they hid much of that money in foreign bank accounts, and did not report those accounts to the IRS. Manafort is accused of hiding roughly $15 million from the IRS in such accounts, with the help of Gates, who handled much of the paperwork.

    Prosecutors plan to use Gates to explain what Manafort knew and what he instructed others to do over years of the alleged fraud. Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye told jurors in his opening statement that the case boils down to “one simple issue: Paul Manafort lied.”

    To prove Manafort is a liar, prosecutors will rely in part on Gates — someone with a long track record of lying. Even when Gates met with prosecutors in February to try to win a plea deal, he lied. To get an agreement, Gates had to admit that lie.

    His plea documents count at least five specific falsehoods he told authorities: that he was told by Manafort that a meeting about Ukraine was not about Ukraine; that he did not lobby U.S. officials about Ukraine; that he did not recall lobbying meetings about Ukraine; that he had served merely as “a means of introduction” for others to talk to U.S. officials about Ukraine; that their firm did not retain emails longer than 30 days.

    And those were just Gates’s lies to the government. Gates’s plea deal documents also note that he made “false and misleading representations to a law firm” working for Mercury Public Affairs, which was one of the firms engaged in the work for Ukraine. 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.”

    Gates will carry the weight of those lies with him to the witness stand, and defense lawyers have made clear their strategy is to blame Gates for any crimes that may have occurred.

    To set the scene for Gates’s testimony, prosecutors last week called accountants, bookkeepers, and salesmen to the witness stand to recount Manafort’s expensive tastes — he spent more than $1 million on clothes, more than $2 million on home entertainment systems, and millions more on luxury homes — and his insistence to tax preparers that he did not have foreign bank accounts.

    For Mueller’s team, the strategy is to show that Gates’s version of events is supported by documents and other witnesses, and that this version of events contradicts Manafort’s claims of innocence.

    When the accountant and bookkeeper were called as witnesses, the defense sought to show they often received their information from Gates, not Manafort. But that strategy was undercut more than once, as witnesses insisted Manafort was clearly in charge and aware of what they were doing.

    Manafort’s bookkeeper, Heather Washkuhn, conceded Gates “handled a lot of the business affairs,” but said Manafort was a detail-oriented boss who approved “every penny” spent.

    Manafort’s defense lawyer Thomas Zehnle told the jury that his client “placed his trust in the wrong person,” and while Manafort may have made mistakes on his tax forms, he never intended to deceive anyone.

    Rick Gates did intend to do so, the lawyer said, charging Gates was the one who prevented accountants and bookkeepers from sharing critical information.

    “Rick Gates had his hand in the cookie jar, and he couldn’t take the risk that his boss might find out,” Zehnle said.

    When Gates pleaded guilty earlier this year, Manafort said he had “hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue to battle to prove our innocence.” Now, the two will battle each other in court.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...=.80453d8863f8
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  7. #22

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    Day 5 Part 1

    Paul Manafort trial Day 5: Prosecutors may call Rick Gates today


    12:59 p.m.: What Cindy Laporta’s immunity means and why it matters

    Paul Manafort’s trial resumes Monday afternoon with the cross-examination of accountant Cindy Laporta. Just before recessing court on Friday, Judge T.S. Ellis III told Manafort’s defense team that they were “not limited” in how they used the fact that Laporta is testifying under immunity from prosecution.

    The “use immunity” order signed by Judge Ellis compels Laporta to testify. Recognizing that she would invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, it says the Department of Justice has granted Laporta “immunity from the use against her in any criminal case of any testimony or other information compelled under such an order, or any information directly or indirectly derived from such testimony or other information.”

    That means Laporta can’t be prosecuted using she said in court or any of the documents she handed over to the special counsel. On Friday, she testified that she helped falsify financial documents to save Manafort money on his taxes and get loans from banks. Manafort directed the fraud, she testified, along with his deputy Rick Gates.

    Defense attorneys will likely argue that Laporta is only saying what the special counsel wants to hear to avoid prosecution herself.

    Laporta is the first of five potential witnesses testifying under immunity orders. Conor O’Brien worked with her at the firm Kositzka, Wicks and Company and was on a conference call in which Gates said Manafort’s income taxes were too high and should be brought down by inflating the size of a loan. “The loan amount may need to be changed,” he wrote.

    Prosecutors have pared down their case at Judge Ellis’ urging, and if Laporta covered everything O’Brien would have testified about he may not be called.

    The other immunized potential witnesses are Jim Brennan and Dennis Raico, both employees of Federal Savings Bank, and Donna Duggan, an insurance broker. All were involved in Manafort’s efforts to secure loans.

    1:02 p.m.: It appears prosecutors may call Rick Gates to testify today

    With the trial scheduled to resume at 1 p.m., a representative from the special counsel’s office has just carted a stack of boxes into the courtroom. In a sign that prosecutors may plan to call Rick Gates to testify later today, two of the boxes are labeled “Gates.”

    The courtroom is jam-packed, likely in anticipation of Gates’s testimony, with spectators having lined up for seats more than an hour in advance. Paul Manafort’s wife is again seated in the front row.

    1:15: Key exhibits from Manafort’s trial so far

    The special counsel has entered into evidence dozens of emails and financial documents. The emails are key to their case, because several show Paul participating in conversations involving financial claims his former accountant Cindy Laporta has testified were fraudulent.

    Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, was the driving force in most of these conversations. It was Gates who emailed Laporta and other accountants in 2015 about adjusting a loan to save Manafort money on his takes. It was Gates who asked to edit Manafort’s 2015 Profit & Loss Statement to reflect $2.6 million in as-yet unreported income. And it was Gates who drafted a loan forgiveness letter Laporta described as fake.

    But in an October 2016, email Manafort himself sent what his bookkeeper testified was a false Profit & Loss Statement to Federal Savings Bank, showing over $3 million in income.Laporta asked Gates in an email about a $1.9 million loan from Telmar Investments, which prosecutors describe as a shell company; Gates forwarded the question to Manafort. He was included on emails claiming a $1.5 million loan from another alleged shell company had been forgiven.

    Emails also show Manafort discussing renting out of a property he owned with his family in Lower Manhattan and later getting a loan on that property; Laporta testified that he instructed her to call it a second home to get a better rate.

    Back in 2009, Manafort was on an email chain in which another accountant who testified last week, Philip Ayliff, asked Manafort about international wire transfers and warning that the Treasury Department has “really clamped down on these disclosures.” The following year it was Manafort who emailed Ayliff to say he had no foreign accounts.

    The documents also paint a picture of Manafort as financially strapped in 2016, the same year he volunteered to work for Donald Trump’s campaign for free. In an April 2016 email, his bookkeeper says his consulting firm’s health insurance policy is about to be canceled because it hasn’t been paid. In the 2016 financial documents she prepared, the firm is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a month – over $600,000 by August and over a million dollars by the end of the year.

    1:55 p.m.: Testimony resumes with Manafort’s attorney taking aim at accountant’s work


    Kevin Downing’s cross-examination of accountant Cindy Laporta began as expected with him casting blame on both the accounting firm Kositzka, Wicks & Co. and Rick Gates for any issues with Manafort’s tax and loan documents.

    First Downing asked why Laporta, who described herself as specializes in audits, was in charge of Manafort’s tax returns. She said that she worked with Philip Ayliff and a team on Manafort’s taxes, which is standard at the firm.

    Next, Downing asked whether it was “quite a chore” to get Manfort’s financial information, and whether the team often ran up against deadlines and was frustrated by the disorganized, inefficient process.

    “Yes,” Laporta responded.

    She also agreed that they often went to Gates for that information.

    “There came a point in time when you didn’t believe what Mr. Gates was saying to you?” Downing asked.

    “That is correct,” Laporta replied.

    Just before the jurors were brought in, prosecutor Greg Andres expressed some concern about how the defense would use “marital infidelity on the part of witness” as evidence of dishonesty. Ellis said he would deal with that issue if and when it came up, likely at the bench.


    2:14 p.m.: Attorney tries to highlight complexity of Manafort’s finances, Gates role

    In his early questioning of accountant Cindy Laporta on Monday, defense attorney Kevin Downing seemed to be trying to highlight two themes.

    Paul Manafort’s finances were so complicated that sorting through them each year was a chore even for his accountants. And Rick Gates was deeply involved in the process.

    Downing asked Laporta about various properties Manafort owned in New York, highlighting how each year their status seemed to change. Sometimes they were used as rentals, sometimes as personal homes and frequently each was being renovated, Laporta testified.

    “It was difficult to follow,” she said.


    Prosecutors have accused Manafort of deceiving banks about the status of his properties to help him get loans. But Downing sought to cast as mere mistakes what prosecutors view as intentional misrepresentations.

    Under Downing’s questioning, Laporta also conceded that she “relied on Rick Gates’s facts” as to how each property was used.

    The testimony is important because prosecutors must prove Manafort was knowingly deceiving banks and the IRS. If jurors are to conclude that Manafort was merely sloppy with his finances – Laporta testified she was often getting materials close to when filings were due – that could benefit his defense. Laporta’s testimony about Gates, too, is somewhat helpful to defense attorneys, as they have sought to blame Manafort’s business partner for any wrongdoing.

    3:02 p.m.: Rick Gates to be next witness at Manafort trial (second update)

    Rick Gates, Paul Manafort’s former business partner and prosecutors’ expected star witness, will testify next, Manafort’s defense attorney said.

    Defense attorney Kevin Downing made the revelation toward the end of his cross examination of one of Manafort’s accountants. As he tried to question the accountant, Cindy Laporta, about what he said was Gates embezzling from Manafort, a prosecutor interrupted, saying he should not be allowed to ask about facts that were not yet in evidence.

    Downing thundered back that prosecutors knew such facts might soon be discussed, adding, “Mr. Gates is next up.”

    Gates is expected to offer key testimony fleshing out allegations that Manafort filed false tax returns, committed bank fraud and lied to get loans worth millions. It will likely be one of the most dramatic moments of the high-profile trial.

    Gates, who was originally charged as a co-conspirator in the case, is cooperating with prosecutors after working out a plea deal. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI in February.

    Gates, who multiple people have called Manafort’s “right hand man” during the trial, had an unparalleled view of Manafort’s business and financial dealings, so his testimony could prove damning for Manafort.

    Defense attorneys have sought to portray Gates as the architect of any financial wrongdoing, saying he had control of Manafort’s finances and sought to line his own pockets.

    Several prosecution witnesses have challenged that contention, portraying Manafort as intimately involved in decisions about his finances.

    Downing has now finished his questioning of Laporta. Prosecutors say they will have about 15 more minutes of questions for the accountant before the next witness. Court is on a break until 3:05 p.m.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  8. #23

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    Day 5 Part 2

    4:00 p.m.: Accountant testifies on Manafort income

    Paul Manafort did not file 2016 tax returns declaring a $1.9 million loan from Telmar Investments as income and paying a penalty until Oct. 16, 2017 — after he knew he was under investigation and just two weeks before he was indicted in D.C. federal court, according to documents introduced by his defense.

    Prosecutors say the company was a shell he used to hide income in Cyprus.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye elicited that information on redirect questioning of accountant Cindy Laporta, He asked her whether, even if a loan disguising income is eventually “forgiven” and paid off, calling it a loan is still false, she said “Yes.” Asonye also totaled up the taxes paid by Manafort between 2005 and 2015 that she recorded on a spreadsheet as about $31 million.

    “Is that less than $60 million?” Asonye asked.

    “Yes,” she said.

    Prosecutors say Manafort made over $60 million in Ukraine during that time period.

    Asonye also asked if she had any evidence that large “purported loans” from Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch, were ever repaid or reclassified as income. Laporta said she had no record of that.

    He also tried to rebut the defense argument that errors in Manafort’s taxes could be chalked up to their complicated nature.

    He asked if she was confused about whether a condo Manafort owned in Lower Manhattan was a rental property or a second home. “Was I confused? No,” she said. Manafort classified it as a rental for tax purposes but a second home to get a new loan, according to her testimony.

    Asonye asked if it required a certain expertise to know that a loan forgiveness letter Rick Gates sent her had been “backdated” to look like it was written eight months earlier. “No,” she said.

    He asked if she needed expertise to know that you can’t disguise income as a loan. “No,” she said.
    “Is that complicated?” he asked. “No,” she said.

    “Did you need to be an expert to know that that was wrong?”
    he asked.

    “No,” she said
    .

    4:08 p.m.: Prosecutors call Treasury official, not Rick Gates, as next witness

    The prosecution has just called its next witness, Paula Liss, a special agent with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the Treasury Department, who is an expert in money-laundering and accounting.

    One of Paul Manafort’s attorneys had previously said the next witness would be Rick Gates, but apparently prosecutor’s had other plans.

    Liss took the stand at 4 p.m., after a lengthy private conference between the judge and lawyers on both sides. Judge Ellis admonished the prosecutor to limit the scope of his questions to those agreed to during the session held out of earshot of the jury and the public.


    4:15 p.m.: Treasury agents says Manafort never filed foreign bank account reports

    Paula Liss, a special agent with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the Treasury Department, testified that Paul Manafort did not file any reports of foreign bank accounts between 2011 and 2014, nor did his wife.

    On cross-examination, Manafort’s defense again tried to emphasize how complicated these reporting requirements are. Thomas Zehnle asked about foreign corporations in which an American has less than a 50 percent stake; Liss agreed that those do not have to be reported but noted there is such a thing as “indirect ownership.” Zehnle asked whether exchange rates can make it difficult to determine whether a person’s foreign holdings exceed the $10,000, Liss agreed.

    On redirect, Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye tried to boil it down: if in 2010 and 2011, Paul Manafort’s consulting firm had a foreign bank account with more than $10,000 in it, controlled by a company that was 100 percent owned by Paul Manafort, would that require reporting, he asked.

    “Yes,” Liss said.


    4:21 p.m. Rick Gates has been called to testify

    The prosecution’s start witness and Paul Manafort’s former business partner has been called to testify against him, after brief testimony from a Treasury official.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  9. #24

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    Day 5 Part 3

    4:38 p.m.: Rick Gates testifies he committed crimes with Manafort


    Shortly after 4 p.m., Rick Gates, dressed in a blue suit, blue shirt and gold tie, walked down one aisle in the courtroom and took the witness stand, where he was questioned by prosecutor Greg Andres.

    Gates, 46, spoke quickly, looking at the prosecutor, rather than Manafort.

    Manafort, seated between his lawyers in a dark suit, blue shit and purple tie, stared intently at his former business partner as he spoke.

    Andres’s early questions focused on the two men’s relationship. Gates testified that he met Manafort as an intern at a Christmas party at Manafort’s house, and he worked in the late 1990s at a political firm where Manafort was a partner, Black Manafort Stone and Kelly.

    In 2006, Gates testified, he began working at Davis Manafort Partners and kept working there in 2012, when the firm became known as DMP International LLC.

    Gates said his responsibilities increased over the years, but he considered himself merely “an employee of the firm,” and he believed Manafort thought of him the same way. He said the two men did not socialize outside of work, though they sometimes met about work at Manafort’s homes.

    After addressing the two men’s work, Andres moved to the heart of the case.

    “Did you commit crimes with Mr. Manafort?” the prosecutor asked.

    “Yes,” Gates responded.

    Gates went on to acknowledge his plea agreement, and the parties soon conferred at the judge’s bench to discuss it. As they did so, Gates continued to stare ahead, not looking at Manafort. Manafort took a few notes.


    4:52 p.m. Gates testifies he and Manafort knowingly did not report foreign bank accounts

    Presented with a copy of the plea agreement he signed in federal court in Washington, Gates said he conspired with Manafort to falsify Manafort’s tax returns. Gates said he and Manafort knowingly failed to report foreign bank accounts and had failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent.

    Andres, the prosecutor, asked Gates whether he understood that his lies to Manafort’s accountants and omissions were illegal.

    “Yes,” Gates said.

    When asked why he had lied, Gates said he had done so at Manafort’s request.

    Separately, Gates explained that Manfort had directed him to report money wired from his foreign bank accounts as loans, rather than as income, in order to reduce Manafort’s taxable income. By reporting it as a loan, Gates explained, Manafort could defer the amount of taxes he owed.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  10. #25

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    This updates the 4:56 Post.

    Day 5 Part 4

    5:10 p.m. Gates admits he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort

    While helping him commit crimes, Rick Gates admits he also embezzled from his boss, something Paul Manafort’s defense attorneys have said repeatedly throughout the trial.

    Gates said he had authority on some of Manafort’s Cyprus accounts, which were set up by a law firm in that country. “I added money to expense reports and created expense reports” that were not accurate, he said, to pad his salary by “several hundred thousand” dollars.

    He said he had embezzled from other employers as well and that he volunteered this information in his meetings with the government.

    Gates said he also told prosecutors he had lied in a deposition in a civil case against Manafort involving a private equity fund.

    And, he said, as a favor to a friend, Steven Brown, he wrote a letter claiming Brown had income that did not exist. Brown is facing fraud prosecution in New York federal court.

    As part of his plea deal, Gates said prosecutors agreed not to pursue charges on those fronts and to drop a second indictment against him in Alexandria accusing him of bank and tax fraud. Gates said he was guilty of those crimes, having wired money from Cyprus through the United Kingdom to the U.S. without paying taxes on it for himself.

    Gates admitted he did lie to investigators while negotiating a plea deal, claiming a March 2013 meeting with a lobbyist and a congressman did not include a discussion of Ukraine.

    He also admitted wiring money from Cyprus for Manafort that was not declared as income falsifying financial documents when Manafort was “hoping to receive” bank loans.

    Asked if he got any personal benefit from Manafort’s falsified loan applications, Gates responded, “No, I did not.”

    Under his plea agreement, Gates said he can go to prison for ten years but his guidelines are 57 to 71 months and prosecutors will not stop his attorney for asking for a probationary sentence.

    But, he said, new charges could be brought against him if he fails to abide by the deal’s conditions, including telling the truth.

    Manafort has continued to stare directly at Gates, leaning forward a bit in his seat, throughout the testimony, while Gates has avoided eye contact.

    Gates has repeatedly said that he committed the majority of his crimes at Manafort’s direction. Off the top of his head he named 12 overseas companies he said Manafort controlled; on prompting from prosecutors he identified three more. “Yes,” they all belonged to Manafort he said. The money in them “came from income from political consulting in Ukraine,” he said.

    “Two directors from a legal firm” in Cyprus set up the majority of the accounts, he said, and he or Manafort would contact them about wiring money.


    5:26 p.m.: Gates admits to long list of wrongdoing

    Rick Gates met with investigators 20 times, he testified Monday, and made the government aware of a bevy of his own wrongdoing – including that he had inflated expense reports to steal from his former business partner.

    “I made the government aware” of that conduct, he testified.

    While Gates will be a key witness against Paul Manafort, his early testimony was just as much a reckoning for his own wrongdoing. He admitted that he was a party not only to what he said was Manafort’s fraud, but that he committed wrongdoing that was all his own – even in one instance violating the terms of his supervised release, when he missed an 11 p.m. curfew by 15 minutes.

    Manafort has sat stoically through the testimony, staring at his former business partner who is key to prosecutors case. Gates, though, did not say exclusively bad things about his former boss. At one point, testifying about the work the two men did in Ukraine, Gates said of Manafort,

    “He’s probably one of the most politically brilliant strategists I’ve ever worked with.” Manafort did not noticeably react.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  11. #26

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    Ken Dilanian
    ‏Verified account
    @KenDilanianNBC

    More
    Gates is a compelling witness. Con-conspirators who cut deals are usually criminals. The prosecution had Gates walk the jury through every bad thing he ever did. They want no surprises on cross. Bottom line: if he lies on the stand he loses his deal.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  12. #27

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    Amy Siskind
    ‏Verified account
    @Amy_Siskind

    Just remember after Manafort shifted to a loss in 2015 and had his accountant lie about income to save hundreds of thousands of taxes, he also, coincidentally, thought it would be a good idea to work for Trump’s campaign for free.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  13. #28

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    Day 5 Part 5

    Late in the afternoon Monday, prosecutors sparred notably with Judge T.S. Ellis III over the pace of the case.
    The heated confrontation came as prosecutors attempted to enter into evidence Rick Gates’s passport to show details of his travels to Ukraine and Cyprus. Ellis interrupted them.

    “Let’s get to the heart of the matter,” he scowled.

    “Judge, we’ve been at the heart…” prosecutor Greg Andres interrupted.

    “Just listen to me!” Ellis bellowed from the bench.

    By the judge’s way of thinking, Manafort’s defense was not contesting the places where Gates had traveled, and thus there was no reason to show jurors pictures of Gates’s passport. By Andres’s telling, Gates’s travels were relevant to the case, and defense attorneys had not conceded to any sort of instruction that would tell jurors where Gates had gone.

    Ellis told Andres he was looking for ways to “expedite.” Andres responded, “We’re doing everything we can to move the trial along.” The dispute seemed to die for a moment, but later, as Andres asked questions about Gates’s work overseas, Ellis again grew irritated.

    “We need to focus sharply,” Ellis told the prosecutor. Andres tried to explain his line of inquiry.

    “Next question,” the judge snapped.

    “The government…” Andres started to say.

    “Next question,” Ellis snapped again, his voice rising.

    Andres moved on.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  14. #29

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    Shimon Prokupecz
    ‏Verified account
    @ShimonPro

    Gates' testimony has concluded for the day. Court will resume tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  15. #30

    Re: The Manafort Trial

    Is this judge impartial?
    Starry starry night

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