Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Rick Gates testifies that he committed crimes with ex-boss Paul Manafort

Rick Gates testifies that he committed crimes with ex-boss Paul Manafort

Rick Gates, the government's star witness, recounted how he and Manafort used offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while concealing the accounts and the income from the IRS. Gates has confessed to two felony charges as part of his plea bargain agreement with the team of special counsel Mueller, and Manafort's defense attorneys have tried to paint Gates as a shameless, sleazy opportunist who will say anything to save his own skin.

Manafort is facing multiple federal counts of bank fraud and tax evasion, and when Gates took the stand for the first time around 4:15 p.m. EST on Monday, he offered elaborate details on their alleged crimes of the 2000s and 2010s.

He said he engaged in the wrongdoing at Manafort's direction.

Gates testified that Manafort "requested I make wire transfers from the foreign accounts" and that "at Mr. Manafort's request", the two of them "did not disclose the foreign bank accounts" to the USA government.

Manafort's lawyers doubled down Monday on their main line of defense: that Manafort placed too much trust in Gates, who abused that trust by putting Manafort's money in legally compromising environs and embezzled gobs of cash from him.

Gates has been described by witnesses as Manafort's right-hand man who helped run the operations of a multimillion-dollar political consulting business.

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Those admissions are likely to become a focal point for Manafort's defence team when he is cross examined on Tuesday.

Gates testified that he wired money to Manafort from Cyprus which wasn't declared as income and falsified financial documents for Manafort when he was "hoping to recieve" bank loans. His case is the first to go to trial arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 USA election.

Prosecutors allege he dodged taxes on millions of dollars he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party. Mueller is also investigating possible coordination between Trump campaign members and Russian officials in the election campaign, but the charges against Manafort do not address that.

In court on Monday, Gates testified that he did steal from Manafort.

Rick Gates will continue his testimony today.

Gates also copped to inflating Manafort's income in doctored financial statements he provided to banks where Manafort was applying for loans once DMP's revenue stream from Ukraine dried up in 2014.

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In questioning Laporta on Monday, a prosecutor asked her about a $10 million (£7.72 million) loan purportedly received by Manafort from Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska in 2006.

Notably, after urging prosecutors to speed things along as jurors heard from 14 witnesses last week, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said late on August 3 that Downing could begin his questioning of Laporta on Monday and wouldn't rush him.

Last week, 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.

As a sober Gates recited his testimony, Manafort reacted about the way you'd expect. Laporta, who testified under an immunity deal with the government, acknowledged that she agreed under pressure from Gates to alter a tax document for one of Manafort's businesses.

And if Manafort did indeed open those accounts, that inherently means he knew they existed - and that he failed to report them to his tax preparers.

Prosecutor Greg Andres pointed out that he had created a "loan forgiveness letter between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Manafort".

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