Rick Gates Testifies He and Manafort Committed Crimes

Howard TerryAug 08, 2018

He'll continue to face friendlier questioning from prosecutors for a bit, then face off with Manafort's defense team, who opened the trial with a blistering attack laying the blame for everything at Gates's feet.

Downing also ventured into territory the two sides in Manafort's fraud trial have mostly avoided: discussion of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Gates said he did, but the defense lawyer wasn't satisfied.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who repeatedly interrupted prosecutors last week as they tried to present evidence about Manafort's lavish life such as $900,000 in expensive suits and a $15,000 ostrich jacket, clashed again with prosecutor Greg Andres on Monday when Andres delved into the status and identities of the Eastern Europeans who made payments to Manafort.

The judge then brought the trial to a standstill late Tuesday afternoon, calling a brief recess. He told jurors how he disguised millions of dollars in foreign income as loans in order to lower Manafort's tax bill.

Gates explained Tuesday how he and Manafort opened up bank accounts in Cyprus using "shelf" companies created and nominally maintained by a Cypriot law firm to make it more hard for law enforcement agencies to find a paper trail or fingerprints tying Manafort to the accounts.

Gates was clean-shaven, unlike his February 23 court appearance, when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements. They have several times tried to impugn his credibility before the jury.

And at Manafort's direction, Gates testified that he did not disclose the accounts to his accountants or federal tax authorities.

"In Cyprus, they were documented as loans".

The siphoned money, Gates said, was directed to his own account in the United Kingdom and also was never to disclosed to his own accountants or the government.

As UNIAN reported earlier, the Manafort case is part of an investigation by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russia's possible meddling in U.S. presidential election in 2016. But Gates pleaded guilty months later and agreed to cooperate in Mueller's investigation of Manafort, the only American charged by the special counsel to opt for trial instead of a guilty plea. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort.

Downing also accused Gates of embezzling "millions", a higher amount than Gates later admitted to in his testimony.

He said Manafort asked for tickets to Trump's inauguration so he could give them to a banker involved in approving a loan at the center of his financial fraud trial.

The email exchange about Calk occurred after Manafort left the Trump campaign but while Gates was active on the Trump inauguration committee.

"There is a period of time over 10 years ago when I had a relationship, yes", Gates said. Kerik, on the other hand, isn't putting any weight on Gates' words because of his motivation for testifying.

Over 75 minutes, prosecutor Greg Andres posed dozens of questions about Gates's financial crimes and the ways that he worked to help Manafort hide from his financial professionals and tax authorities.

Gates first worked for Manafort's political consulting firm as an intern out of college. When the trial broke for lunch, Manafort looked back at his wife, sitting in the front row, smiled and winked at her, followed by a quick shake of his head, seeming to indicate he was unfazed by the morning's testimony.

Among his actions on behalf of Manafort, Gates said he characterized hundreds of thousands of dollars in income as loans to reduce Manafort's tax liability and pushed accountants to reclassify some loans as income to qualify for loans or seek more favorable lending rates.

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