Manafort hid millions in foreign accounts, USA prosecutor says

The charges against Manafort are being prosecuted by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who uncovered the alleged wrongdoing during his probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and suspected collusion with Trump's campaign.

Paul Manafort made more than $60 million consulting for a Russia-backed political party in Ukraine, according to prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Mr. Manafort has pleaded not guilty and denies all of the charges, which include accusations that he didn't pay taxes on $30 million in income he earned from consulting for Ukrainian politicians in the early 2010s, and accusations that he misled multiple banks in 2015 and 2016 to obtain millions of dollars in loans.

Prosecutors plan to produce almost three dozen witnesses during the trial, including Manafort's former associate Richard Gates, who is cooperating with the government after pleading guilty to lesser charges in February.

Prosecutors are expected to argue that Manafort's lavish spending on suits, homes and luxury items did not match the income declared on his tax returns and that he misled lenders when he borrowed tens of millions of dollars against NY real estate.

"Paul Manafort traveled in circles that most people will never know and he's gotten handsomely rewarded for it", Zehnle said.

The comments were the first volley in the bank fraud and tax evasion trial.

By midday, a jury of six women and six men, with four alternates, was in place.

The charges against Manafort largely predate the five months he worked on the Trump team in 2016, some of them as campaign chairman.

Expected to be a main witness, Gates was Manafort's right-hand man for years and has knowledge of their offshore accounts and work for Deripaska and in Ukraine. One of those companies has pleaded not guilty and is fighting the allegations in federal court in Washington.

The fireworks were pretty tame to start, as special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors amusingly revealed that Manafort bought a $15,000 ostrich jacket.

Yesterday, prosecutors said in court filings that they intend to prove that Mr Manafort earned more than $60m (€51m) lobbying for the former pro-Russia Ukrainian government and failed to report "a significant percentage" of that.

Manafort was a senior Trump campaign aide and he led the campaign for several months, but the charges are not directly related to campaign activity, as the White House has repeatedly emphasized. He's also charged with bank fraud conspiracy for attempting to get a separate $5.5 million loan for a brownstone in Brooklyn, prosecutors say.

If the judge rules in their favor, prosecutors could present evidence that delves deeper into Manafort's Russian connections.

Last week, Ellis issued a series of guidelines for topics that would be off limits during the Manafort trial. Whatever dirt he provided Mueller on Manafort has been seen as the key to that deal.

The pool of jurors will face questions from both sides and U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III as they try to weed out potential prejudice in what has become a highly publicized and politically divisive investigation. "They are more anxious about protecting the trial from having a mistrial or having it overturned on appeal than provoking a hold-out person over Trump", Wu explained.

Manafort, who has been jailed for almost two months, wore a black suit and appeared fully engaged in his defense, whispering with his attorneys during jury selection and scribbling notes as the prosecution began its opening statement.

Manafort has a second trial scheduled for September in the District of Columbia.

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