Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Gates Admits Embezzling From Manafort, Helping Hide Fraud

Donald Trump campaign aide Rick Gates departs after a status conference at the U.S. District Court following his indictment on tax fraud and money laundering charges in the special counsel's investigation into allege Rick Gates Set to Testify Against Ex-Boss Paul Manafort
Ellis Copeland | 07 August, 2018, 21:53

Gates - who served on the 2016 Trump presidential campaign with Mr Manafort - told the court he had stolen from other employers, too.

"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans".

Some of the maneuvers were at the request of Gates, while others implicated Manafort, Laporta testified.

One accounting trick saved Mr Manafort $US500,000 ($676,907) in taxes, she said.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether any Trump aides colluded with an alleged Moscow plot to help elect him as U.S. president, and whether there was any obstruction of justice.

The defense in the case is likely to subject Gates to an intensive cross-examination after arguing during opening statements that he embezzled millions of dollars from Manafort and then turned against him under pressure from Mueller. The usually bearded Gates appeared in court clean-shaven on Monday.

With President Trump making the election campaign promise to "drain the swamp", critics have been quick to point out the hypocrisy of having two high up former aides associated with salacious behaviour. Both cases are connected to work Manafort and Gates did for the Ukrainian government.

But she said she believed Manafort was directing Gates' efforts to disguise loans and hide income, noting that Manafort was copied on her email traffic with Gates. In exchange for his plea, Gates agreed to testify against Manafort. When a banker asked about $1.5 million debt that Manafort's company owed to a Cyrus entity called Peranova Holdings Limited, Gates produced a backdated document showing it was forgiven.

"In most instances it was clear Mr. Manafort knew what was going on", Laporta said.

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His testimony is scheduled to continue on Tuesday. Instead, he glanced up at him periodically but mostly stared intently at documents displayed for the jury on a screen in front of him. U.S. Attorney Greg Andres asked Gates.

On Friday, a tax preparer named Cindy Laporta admitted that she helped disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan in order to reduce Manafort's tax burden.

So far, that testimony has provided jurors with a damning account.

During his testimony on Monday, Gates described Manafort as "probably one of the most politically brilliant strategists I've ever worked with".

A $1 million payment for work in 2014 was "significantly past due" and "Mr. Manafort was quite upset the money had not been sent", Gates told the court. Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax and bank fraud.

Gates told jurors that he siphoned off the money without Manafort's knowledge by filing false expense reports.

Critical testimony expected at the trial of President Trump's former campaign chair as Manafort's right-hand man set to take the stand as early as Monday; reaction and analysis from James Trusty, former Justice Department prosecutor. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting he had been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis repeatedly clashed with prosecutors about the relevance of such testimony and once again urged them to speed things along.

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