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Rick Gates admits to committing crimes with Paul Manafort

Rick Gates admits to committing crimes with Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort's former business partner, Rick Gates, took the witness stand on Monday for what may be the most critical testimony in Manafort's bank and tax fraud trial.

Gates was expected to be a star witness in the government's case against Manafort having pleaded guilty in February and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors under a deal that could lead to a reduced sentence.

The jury heard how Mr Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for political work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

The testimony from Gates, a former adviser to Donald Trump, comes after reaching a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year to testify against his former partner in a lucrative worldwide political consulting firm.

In stunning testimony at Manafort's trial on tax and fraud charges, Gates stated he and Manafort had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the federal government, and knew it was illegal.

When asked who was in charge in the relationship, Manafort's longtime tax accountant Phillip Ayliff told the jury: "Oh - Mr. Manafort".

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Gates, 46, is already facing up to five years in prison under the terms of a plea deal he struck with prosecutors in February when he pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Gates testified that he and Manafort had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the USA government, and knew that was illegal. Manafort attorney Kevin Downing will cross-examine Laporta, who is testifying under an immunity agreement because she feared prosecution for perjury or false statements.

Manafort served as chairman of Trump's presidential campaign during the summer of 2016, and was forced out in August of that year amid news stories about his ties to then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

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.

Manafort's attorneys have sought to blame Gates for the financial crimes, in addition to embezzling money from Manafort. Similar to prior witnesses, Laporta testified that Gates and Manafort were in lockstep but that Manafort was in charge. In calling Gates, the government will present jurors with the firsthand account of a co-conspirator expected to say Manafort was knee-deep in an alleged scheme to hide millions of dollars from the IRS and defraud several banks.

There was no mention of President Trump or his campaign, but this trial is the first big public test for the special counsel. The effect of the loan was to reduce Manafort's income by that amount and reduce his taxes, she said.


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