Paul Manafort's ex-aide Rick Gates testifies at trial on Cyprus accounts

Paul Manafort's ex-aide Rick Gates testifies at trial on Cyprus accounts

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.

He testified that "at Mr. Manafort's direction", he knowingly and deliberately violated U.S. tax law by failing to disclose assets held in 15 foreign bank accounts belonging to both him and Manafort to federal authorities. He said he engaged in the wrongdoing at Manafort's direction.

Gates and Manafort have known each other for two decades and ran a multimillion-dollar political consulting business. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting he had been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.

Testifying under immunity, she was the first witness to admit she knew accounting manoeuvrers Mr Manafort and Mr Gates requested of her were wrong and could be crimes. Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax and bank fraud. The crimes Gates described largely predated Manafort's stint as Donald Trump's presidential campaign chairman in 2016.

After Manafort left the campaign in August 2016 amid swirling questions about his Ukraine work, Gates stayed on the campaign and later helped found pro-Trump advocacy group, before he was ultimately forced out, too, as questions mounted about Manafort.

The case has little to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign and there's been no discussion during the trial about whether the Trump election effort co-ordinated with Russian Federation - the central question Mueller's team has tried to answer.

Week 2 opened with high drama as Gates took the stand as the prosecution's star witness, and the judge continued to scold prosecutors for not hewing as closely to the script as he'd like. Klimnik is a Russian-Ukrainian political consultant who was indicted in June on charges stemming from the Mueller probe. Gates also testified that a Russian citizen, who is allegedly tied to Russian intelligence, had signatory authority over some of Manafort's hidden accounts in Cyprus, according to reports.

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Gates is testifying in Manafort's trial on bank and tax fraud charges in a packed federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, in a case stemming from the special counsel's investigation.

The jury heard testimony on Friday and Monday (local time) from accountant Cynthia Laporta, who described how Mr Manafort and Mr Gates doctored financial statements and backdated loans.

In a reflection of Gates' importance to the prosecution's case, a cart of about a half dozen green-and-white document boxes bearing his name was rolled into the courtroom ahead of his testimony.

"Did you commit crimes with Mr. Manafort?" asked prosecutor Greg Andres. Laporta testified that she saw no evidence that the loan was ever repaid.

Andres will continue questioning Gates for roughly an hour Tuesday before the defense gets a chance to cross-examine him.

But Laporta's testimony raised the stakes for Manafort, legal experts said.

Meanwhile, Manafort's legal team is trying to persuade jurors Gates is exclusively responsible for any errors in Manafort's tax filings.

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