Star witness Rick Gates testifies against former boss Paul Manafort

Star U.S. witness Gates testifies he committed crimes with Manafort

Star U.S. witness Gates testifies he committed crimes with Manafort

Paul Manafort and Rick Gates shared a long business partnership that took them to the helm of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

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

Gates walked into a packed courtroom a day after he calmly acknowledged having embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and said the two had committed crimes together by stashing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents.

"At Mr Manafort's request we did not disclose foreign bank accounts", Mr Gates told the jury in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. They were the first two people indicted by Mueller's grand jury.

"Were you involved in any criminal activity with Mr. Manafort?" a prosecutor on special counsel Robert Mueller's team asked Gates, the key witness in the charges brought against Manafort. Gates has accepted a plea deal to testify against Manafort, who is facing 18 charges, including tax fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. Gates also said that they sometimes characterized payments as loans to mask income. Both cases are connected to work Manafort and Gates did for the Ukrainian government. Gates said he spoke to LaPorta about listing the property as a residence.

Special counsel Robert Mueller charged Gates and Paul Manafort previous year with dozens of counts related to their lobbying efforts on behalf of foreign governments.

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.

His testimony, given in short, clipped answers as Manafort rarely broke his gaze from the witness stand, follows that of vendors who detailed Manafort's luxurious spending and financial professionals who told jurors how the defendant hid millions of dollars in offshore accounts.

"I assisted Mr. Manafort in filing false tax returns", Gates testified.

But the prosecution's witnesses have also testified that they generally believed that Gates was carrying out Manafort's wishes when he gave false information to Manafort's accountants.

During his testimony, star witness Gates has been very up-front about his own activities-testifying that he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, defrauded the USA government, falsified documents to banks, laundered money, lied in a deposition and was guilty of all the fraud and tax evasion charges he was accused of.

Manafort, a flamboyant figure in Washington for decades, became known for his consulting and lobbying work for ethically questionable global leaders like Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych.

He has tweeted support for his former campaign manager, suggesting he has been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.

On Monday, Judge T.S. Ellis repeatedly clashed with prosecutors about the relevance of such testimony and once again urged them to speed things along. Manafort instructed his bookkeeper to classify it as a loan for tax purposes, though Gates admitted in court that it was not one and Manafort had never received a loan from Lyovochkin.

He said that some of Manafort's income was disguised as loans from 15 shell companies that Manafort controlled, majority in Cyprus.

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