Rick Gates takes the witness stand at Paul Manafort’s tax, fraud trial
Aug 08, 2018, 04:41
Gates joined Trump's campaign as deputy campaign manager in June 2016 and continued in other roles after Manafort was ousted.
Laporta also discussed problems that arose in February 2016 when Manafort needed cash and applied to Citizens Bank for a real-estate loan against property he owned in NY.
"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans". Gates pleaded guilty this year to felony charges and agreed to co-operate in an investigation into possible ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.
Gates also said he lied to accountants working on Manafort's taxes, to conceal foreign bank accounts that prosecutors say Manafort used to hide tens of millions of dollars from the IRS. He said his own crimes included cheating on his taxes and lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents just weeks before he pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy and false statements.
Meanwhile, Manafort's legal team is trying to persuade jurors Gates is exclusively responsible for any errors in Manafort's tax filings.
Prosecutors have sought to undercut this argument by repeatedly asking witnesses who dealt with Manafort and Gates about the dynamics of their relationship, trying to underscore that Manafort was the supervisor.
His testimony is important for prosecutors: The federal judge in the trial, U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, said in court last week they "can't prove conspiracy" in the case unless prosecutors call Gates to the stand. Ellis issued that warning after prosecutors suggested Gates might not be called to the stand after all.
Gates is expected to testify for several hours Tuesday and then face a bruising cross-examination as defence lawyers try to undercut his credibility and pin the blame on him. By that standard, Ellis told the court, Charles Koch and George Soros would be considered oligarchs.
Originally charged as a co-conspirator, he acknowledged in court on Monday he was co-operating with the prosecution in the hope of leniency.
Gates, considered a star witness against Manafort, struck a plea deal with prosecutors to cooperate in the case against his former business partner.
Speaking at Manafort's trial late that afternoon, Gates bluntly answered the prosecutor's questions.
Gates said he conspired with Manafort to falsify tax returns, knowingly failed to report foreign bank accounts and failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent. Later, they say, when that income dwindled, Manafort launched a different scheme, shoring up his struggling finances by using doctored documents to obtain millions more in bank loans. Gates also said Manafort floated banker Stephen Calk's name for consideration as Secretary of the Army, a post he ultimately did not get.
He testified that "at Mr. Manafort's direction", he knowingly and deliberately violated United States tax law by failing to disclose assets held in 15 foreign bank accounts belonging to both him and Manafort to federal authorities.
But there are plenty more details that were laid out in the indictment against Manafort that Gates hasn't yet discussed that will likely be raised on Tuesday.
He said Manafort asked for tickets to Trump's inauguration so he could give them to a banker involved in approving a loan at the centre of his financial fraud trial.
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