Friday, 17 August, 2018

Ex-Manafort Accountant Given the Pink Slip After Testifying

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Rick Gates, the ex-business partner of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, provided the most explosive testimony yet in the federal government's tax evasion, bank fraud and conspiracy case against Manafort.

In fact, his name was barely mentioned in the first five days of the tax and bank fraud case brought against his former campaign chairman.

Gates appeared nervous on the witness stand at the court in Alexandria, Virginia, blinking frequently, his throat apparently dry as he spoke. Nanavati also suggested that, even though the property was listed for rent on Airbnb for more than a year, it could still be used as a primary residence.

"I acknowledge I had a period of time when I had another relationship", said Gates, who is married and has four children.

Manafort's "amazing full floor loft in Soho" disappeared from Airbnb during a monthlong period when he closed a $3.4 million mortgage on the NY property, after telling a bank it was a second home used by his family.

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"He always had control over the accounts", Gates said of Manafort, and the income was not reported to his bookkeepers, his accountants or the U.S. tax authorities.

Prosecutors asked Ellis to instruct the jury that they hadn't done anything improper in an attempt to fix any unfair prejudice.

Following Gates' testimony, prosecutors resumed trying to make their case for financial fraud by Manafort through documentary evidence to demonstrate his control of offshore bank accounts containing millions of dollars not reported to the IRS as required by US law. One prosecutor noted that the judge had granted permission for the agent to attend. But Ellis told jurors he went overboard when he erupted on prosecutors Wednesday for allowing an expert witness to remain in the courtroom during the trial.

Welch testified after the government's star witness, Rick Gates, ended three days of testimony on Wednesday after admitting he lied, stole money and cheated as lawyers for Manafort, his former boss, attacked his character and credibility. Witnesses are usually excluded from watching unless allowed by the judge. That's when they reminded the judge that they had already discussed this and thought he had given Welch permission to sit in on testimony.

The accusation came after Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, established that Gates knew his plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller was contingent on his telling the truth. Previously, Gates revealed to the court and to the Special Counsel's Office that he had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort out of the foreign accounts when he faked expense reports. There have been exceptions, like when Gates said that he might have also embezzled from the Trump inauguration committee by inflating his expenses, and when he testified about how Manafort reached out to talk about securing a banker who loaned him money tickets to the inauguration and potentially a position in the administration. While many of them have been out of earshot of the jury, the judge has repeatedly expressed frustration with how the prosecution had presented its case against Manafort. He finished his testimony Wednesday, Day 7 of the trial.

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When Gates pleaded guilty and flipped on Manafort in February, he also agreed to help the special counsel with its investigation into Russian election interference as he was needed.

"Judges should be patient". I hope Manafort said "thank you" at least. "I am here. I have accepted responsibility and I am trying to change".

The face-off between longtime business associates and former senior members of the Trump campaign drew scores of people who waited in line for hours outside the courthouse and then jammed into both the courtroom and an overflow room that contained a video feed of the proceedings.

Mr Manafort and Mr Gates were the first people indicted in Mr Mueller's investigation into potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

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