Manafort bank fraud trial, day four

Susan Walsh  AP

Susan Walsh AP

She said she prepared Manafort's tax return that year despite concerns that the information he and Gates provided was wrong.

Given the impact of Laporta's testimony, it is now unlikely the prosecution will call O'Brien to the stand, according to a person close to the case.

"It was not appropriate", Ms. Laporta said. "But then they were longtime clients of the firm and I did not want to do that either".

Prosecutors say Manafort used the offshore bank accounts, based mainly in Cyprus, to purchase millions of dollars of goods and services directly so he could avoid paying taxes on the money he received for political consulting work he did in Ukraine. Such accounts must be reported to tax authorities if they contain $10,000 or more. She said Gates told her in a conference call the income level "was too high" and proposed reclassifying a portion of it as a loan.

Prosecutors showed so many photographs of his pricy threads that Judge T.S. Ellis III of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. eventually scolded prosecutors.

"You believed it was false?" "Let's move on, enough is enough", Ellis said during the trial.

"You've got to try to find a way to throw a monkey wrench in", Buell said.

"Nobody intending to violate the law would leave the evidence around for his accountant to find it", Manfort's lead attorney Kevin Downing said in the courtroom Friday.

The fourth day of Paul Manafort's trial blended tax documents with a witness' astonishing confession of guilt.

Gates has pled guilty to several charges that Mueller brought against him, and he's cooperating with the Mueller probe. "It's evidence of his income".

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The jury also heard from several money managers contracted to keep tabs on Manafort's cash flow.

As late as August 2016 - the same month he resigned from the Trump campaign - Manafort was sending emails to Laporta asking her to alter a profit-and-loss statement for his company. He is expected to testify at the trial, which could last weeks. As part of this email chain, O'Brian allegedly wrote "The loan amount may need to be changed".

Manafort faces tax and bank fraud charges stemming from his work for a pro-Russia politician in Ukraine. It's the first courtroom test of Mueller's team, which is tasked with looking into Russia's efforts to interfere with the 2016 US election and whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with the Kremlin to sway voters.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. That investigation remains ongoing, and this week's financial fraud trial is not tied to collusion.

Friday begins with further testimony from Philip Ayliff, a longtime tax accountant for Manafort.

Ayliff told jurors that he handled Manafort's business and personal taxes for two decades and that his client always had a command of his complex returns.

Gates' 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.

Manafort is facing 18 counts and a maximum 305-year prison sentence if the Eastern Virginia jury finds him guilty. But he said Manafort authorized those discussions, and Gates and Manafort never contradicted each other.

"It's kind of leading up to Gates" testimony that, "Yep, this is what he was telling me to do, '" the former USA prosecutor said.

"But little did Paul know that Rick Gates was lining his own pockets and the evidence will show he was claiming fake bonuses and business expenditures in order to pay himself", Zehnle said. But we can already be pretty sure of what Trump will say when this one is over. One witness, Maximillian Katzman, testified that Manafort spent more than $900,000 at his boutique retailer in NY. Classifying the property as a personal residence would have made it easier to obtain the mortgage at a low rate. Mueller's team said the witnesses refused to testify or would refuse to answer certain questions if not given the protection. Short and soft-spoken, Ms. Laporta did not hide her suspicions that Mr. Manafort's financial records had been doctored. 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.

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