Gates Begins Testimony Against 'Brilliant' Ex-Boss Manafort

Gates Begins Testimony Against 'Brilliant' Ex-Boss Manafort

Mr Manafort's attorneys signalled they would seek to blame Mr Gates and had accused him of embezzling millions of dollars from Mr Manafort.

Gates told jurors that he siphoned off the money without Manafort's knowledge by filing false expense reports.

When Rick Gates took the stand in Paul Manafort's Virginia trial Monday, he quickly showed the power Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team can wield if they can get witnesses to "flip" against former friends and colleagues, a particular obsession of President Donald Trump's as the Russian Federation investigation grinds on.

Gates testified that he and Manafort had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the USA government, and knew that was illegal.

Gates also testified that both he and Manafort had control over the foreign accounts, as well as Manafort's business associate Konstantin Kilimnik.

When he finished speaking Monday, he had described his history of work with Manafort, his plea deal with prosecutors and how Manafort's consulting operation in Ukraine functioned.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

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.

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

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Gates said that the foreign accounts were used to receive income they made from their work as political operatives in Ukraine. Gates said he made the government aware of the scheme, which was not among the initial charges he faced before pleading guilty, as part of his cooperation with prosecutors. The charges largely predate his five months on the Trump campaign but were the first to go to trial arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

Gates also testified he and Manafort knew it was a crime because they had been notified by Manafort's accountants in emails.

Mr Manafort, 69, could spend the rest of his life in prison if found guilty of all the fraud charges.

Manafort, a flamboyant figure in Washington for decades, became known for his consulting and lobbying work for ethically questionable worldwide leaders like Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych.

Reporters in the courtroom said that Manafort stared intently at Gates while he testified against him, but that Gates avoided looking at his former partner.

The prosecution's witness list still has 19 names of those who've yet to appear in court.

"Let's get to the heart of the matter", Ellis growled. The judge twice requested the lawyers to his bench, out of the earshot of the jury and the public, to discuss their approach to questioning.

But Ms Laporta's testimony raised the stakes for Mr Manafort, legal experts said. Laporta, who testified under an immunity deal with the government, acknowledged that she agreed under pressure from Gates to alter a tax document for one of Manafort's businesses. The defense introduced its own documents to the jury for the first time - rather than relying on the prosecutors' binders of evidence - and showed that Manafort had paid $8 million in taxes over 10 years.

Under cross examination, she said at the time she believed Manafort was directing Gates' actions and "knew what was going on". Manafort ran the 2016 presidential campaign for then-candidate Donald Trump, but the crimes he is accused of were allegedly committed prior to his involvement with the election.

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