Gates tells Manafort trial he assisted in filing false tax returns

Rick Gates, the key prosecution witness in the tax and fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, testified Monday he had committed crimes alongside and at the direction of his former partner - and had also stolen from Manafort himself.

In questioning Laporta on Monday, a prosecutor asked the accountant about a $10 million loan purportedly received by Manafort from Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska in 2006. Prosecutors were expected to ask Gates for an inside look at what they say was a scheme by Manafort to use offshore bank accounts, shell companies and wire transfers as to avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax bills.

Gates served as Manafort's business partner for almost a decade until 2016, when the two joined the Trump campaign for president.

Earlier Monday, Ellis threatened to kick reporters out of the courtroom if they continue being "disruptive".

Jurors will hear again Monday from Cynthia Laporta, an accountant who testified August 3 about going along with phony, backdated documents meant to help lower Manafort's tax bills and secure real-estate loans even as his personal debt rose. Gates also worked for the Trump election campaign.

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

Prosecutors are trying to craft a narrative through the various vendors, bookkeepers, and accountants who have testified that Manafort, through Gates, directed his own illicit transactions.

Manafort attorney Kevin Downing says that Rick Gates will testify at the conclusion of the testimony of Manafort's tax preparer.

The Manafort trial marks the first major court test for the Mueller investigation.

Gates did not make eye contact with Manafort as he took the stand wearing a yellow tie and navy blue suit.

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

Under cross examination, she said at the time she believed Manafort was directing Gates' actions and "knew what was going on".

Laporta detailed multiple examples in which Manafort and Gates sought to doctor financial records, first in order to lower Manafort's taxable income and then later to inflate his income so that he could get bank loans. Manafort attorney Kevin Downing will cross-examine Laporta, who is testifying under an immunity agreement because she feared prosecution for perjury or false statements.

  • Rogelio Becker