Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Gates testifies millions of dollars moved through shell companies, accounts in Cyprus

Gates testifies millions of dollars moved through shell companies, accounts in Cyprus

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts filed against him in February.

Gates told the jury that as part of his plea with prosecutors, he revealed several other crimes that were not previously known and that were not included in the federal indictments against him and Manafort.

"Did you commit crimes with Mr. Manafort?" asked the prosecutor.

On Tuesday, Gates also testified about "modified" invoices for payments to US vendors that he said he created at Manafort's request. He testified that at Manafort's instruction, he lied to Manafort's accountants about foreign bank accounts in order to avoid paying taxes on that money. When Robert Mueller began investigating Russian interference a year ago, Manafort's questionable lobbying work - the sort of activity that has historically rarely been investigated in Washington - was put under a microscope, exposing him and his associates.

Manafort's lawyers doubled down Monday on their main line of defense: that Manafort placed too much trust in Gates, who abused that trust by putting Manafort's money in legally compromising environs and embezzled gobs of cash from him.

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Originally charged as a co-conspirator, he acknowledged in court on Monday he was co-operating with the prosecution in the hope of leniency. He faces 57 to 71 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges. But Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort and suggesting he had been treated worse than gangster Al Capone.

Since the trial started before US District Judge T.S. Ellis last Tuesday, Manafort's lawyers have kept their cross-examinations brief and at times refrained from attempting to rebut damaging testimony in detail.

That's but a drop in the ocean of the roughly $30 million prosecutors are claiming Manafort hid from the IRS.

"If at the time you learned Mr. Gates was embezzling millions of dollars from Mr. Manafort, would you have picked up the phone to Mr. Manafort?"

"When we try to describe the work, Your Honor stops us and tell us to move on", he said.

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Gates and Manafort worked closely together for years.

They also allege that when that income began to fall away, Manafort turned to using falsified documents to get bank loans. They aimed to show jurors how that money flowed from more than a dozen shell companies used to stash the income in Cyprus.

Accountant Cindy LaPorta - who was granted immunity from prosecution - was asked by prosecutors if she had been aware of a $10m (£7.7m) loan in 2006 from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The funds were logged as loans, but Gates testified they were in fact compensation to Manafort. Gates said that at Manafort's request, he sent a 2015 insurance policy for the home that did not list a mortgage on the home, even though the more current 2016 insurance policy noted the mortgage.

After that, Gates sent her a document dated March 6, 2014, that purported to represent a $900,000 loan from a Cyprus entity, Telmar Limited, to Manafort's company.

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