Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Gates Describes Manafort Orders While Defense Hammers 'Secret Life'

Gerardo Duncan | 08 August, 2018, 20:26

Defense attorneys for Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDefense in Manafort trial zeroes in on Gates's "secret life" Manafort's former accountant fired from firm after testifying Giuliani: Negotiations for Trump-Mueller interview "near the end" MORE on Wednesday seized on the prosecution's star witness, accusing former Trump campaign adviser Richard Gates of violating his plea agreement by lying to federal prosecutors about how many extramarital affairs he had.

Mr Downing forced Gates to admit he had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing bogus personal expenses claims and that he had engaged in an extramarital affair and kept an apartment in London for that objective.

Manafort's lawyer suggested that the affair - which included a London pad, first-class plane trips and luxury hotels - cost up to $3 million.

Rick Gates says that he told Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and Justice Department lawyers about some of the offshore companies that contained millions of dollars in proceeds from their Ukrainian political work. "We need to discuss Steve Calk for Sec (retary) of the Army", Manafort wrote to Gates in an email on November 24, 2016.

Gates denied Downing's suggestion he used money stolen from Manafort's Cypriot accounts to pay for a trip to Las Vegas, audio equipment and groceries from a Whole Foods in Virginia.

Downing also pressed Gates about creating "fake and phony" invoices to trigger payments to himself from Manafort's accounts in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Gates also said he may have submitted personal expenses for reimbursement by Trump's inaugural committee, which he helped operate.

"I'm here to tell the truth and take responsibility for my actions", Gates said in response to a question from Downing about his trustworthiness. Gates recounted how he and Manafort used more than a dozen offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while concealing the accounts and the income from the IRS.

For most of his testimony, Gates did not look at Mr Manafort, while the defendant stared intently at his former partner.

Rick Gates is back on the stand for another hour of cross-examination Wednesday, as defense attorneys seek to paint him as far too compromised to offer credible testimony against his former boss.

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

The email exchange about Calk occurred after Manafort left the Trump campaign but while Gates was active on the Trump inauguration committee. Gates said that these loans were actually income. "In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts", Gates said.

According to Gates, Manafort had a great deal of knowledge and control over the dispensation of funds-personally signing on the payments "hundreds" of times.

Gates says Manafort also wanted to give the businessman a heads up about the FBI's interest in the offshore accounts as part of the USA government's efforts to recover assets stolen under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, says Gates was heavily involved in helping hide millions overseas. These accounts, Gates added, predated his tenure at Manafort's DMP International.

In detailed testimony this week, Gates has walked prosecutors through the step-by-step process on how he and Manafort doctored and backdated documents.

In October 2016, for instance, Gates sent Manafort DMP's profit and loss statement (P&L) from January 1 through June 30 of that year, emails introduced in court Tuesday show.

And Gates faced fraud charges from the special counsel after it discovered he had written a letter to a Swiss movie production company falsely claiming that his own production company was investing in a film project by his friend, Steve Brown.

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