Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
World News | By Joan Terry

Forensic Accountant Next Up in Manafort Trial as Gates Ends Testimony

Forensic Accountant Next Up in Manafort Trial as Gates Ends Testimony

Prosecutors in Paul Manafort's financial fraud trial say they have eight witnesses left and expect to rest their case Friday.

Ellis had chastised the prosecution for allowing IRS agent Michael Welch to be present during court proceedings before taking his turn to testify.

Downing responded that the question goes to whether Downing told the truth to the special counsel or whether the plea agreement should be ripped up - potentially devastating to the government's case and to the public perception of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference.

"Judge Ellis seems to want the lawyers to try the case the way he would try the case", said Gillers.

On Thursday, they also asked Ellis to seal portions of a bench conversation that came during the testimony of Gates, Manafort's longtime deputy, because "substantive evidence" in an ongoing investigation was discussed.

As he has repeatedly noted, President Donald Trump is not directly implicated in Paul Manafort's Virginia trial.

While Gates and others have pleaded guilty, Manafort has refused to strike a deal and legal experts say he may be holding out hopes of a pardon from Trump.

Another Citizens Bank employee, Vice President Peggy Miceli, testified that Manafort wouldn't have gotten the $3.4 million loan in March 2015 had the bank known about the rental property.

Paul Manafort lied about the status of his two properties in NY in order to fraudulently obtain a $3.4 million loan, according to testimony Thursday. Gates testified that he had an extramarital affair a decade ago, and also that he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort.

Moreover, Manafort remains a central figure in the broader inquiry into the Trump campaign's dealings with Russia, including a 2016 Trump Tower meeting at which Russians promised "dirt" on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and his role in watering down the 2016 Republican Party platform position on Ukraine.

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Following Gates' testimony, prosecutors resumed trying to make their case for financial fraud by Manafort through documentary evidence to demonstrate his control of offshore bank accounts containing millions of dollars not reported to the IRS as required by USA law. Downing asked Gates whether he had told prosecutors that he had four extramarital affairs.

Mr Mueller, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, has indicted more than 30 people - including 26 Russians - in connection with his probe into whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to help get the real estate tycoon elected. "Mr. Manafort had the same path", Gates said.

Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax and banking crimes and has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Gates also said Manafort floated banker Stephen Calk's name for consideration as Secretary of the Army, a post he ultimately did not get. "Pls (sic) make the five transfers listed below from the Leviathan account and confirm to me when completed", Manafort wrote.

Gates said he helped Manafort hide secret bank accounts in the United Kingdom, Cyprus and the Grenadines.

Earlier on Tuesday, the prosecution had continued to question Gates, who described how millions of dollars were allegedly funnelled from entities controlled by Ukrainian businessmen into Manafort's shell companies in Cyprus.

Evidently, Laporta's now-former employer, Alexandria-based CPA firm Kositzka, Wicks & Co., had no idea these shenanigans were happening right under its nose, which I don't know about you, but I find hard to believe.

Greg Andres, an attorney with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, said the prosecution is running ahead of schedule. That includes longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates, who testified against his former boss.

Before jurors are sent off to deliberate at the end of a case, the judge typically tells them not to read anything into either the judge's words or body language, attorney and law professor Seth Abramson said in an email.

In the six days since the trial began, the jury has heard from 15 witnesses including two of Manafort's former accountants and his former bookkeeper.

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