Bookkeeper: Ex-Trump campaign chairman 'approved every penny' of bills

  • Bookkeeper: Ex-Trump campaign chairman 'approved every penny' of bills

Bookkeeper: Ex-Trump campaign chairman 'approved every penny' of bills

WASHINGTON-Special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors are walking the jury in the trial of Paul Manafort through records to back their claim that the former Trump campaign chairman deceived his own financial advisers to hide his foreign accounts and income from US tax authorities.

Prosecutors on Thursday pressed their bank and tax fraud case against Paul Manafort, presenting testimony and documents to try to prove U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman deceived his lead bookkeeper and a bank about his finances.

Cynthia Laporta, who prepared Mr Manafort's tax returns starting in 2014, told a jury in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, that she was testifying under an immunity agreement with the Government to avoid being prosecuted as Mr Manafort was charged with bank fraud and tax fraud.

As part of his guilty plea, Gates acknowledged routinely dealing with accountants in the preparation of Manafort's tax returns and misleading them with false information, although he said he did so with Manafort's knowledge.

Laporta's testimony took up most of the day on Friday as prosecutors used her to walk through several other documents they claim illustrate additional instances of tax and bank fraud from Manafort and Gates. That's how people learned he once spent more than $400,000 in a single year on his own personal wardrobe, paying handsomely for it with it through global wire transfers from foreign bank accounts, according to witnesses and prosecutors.

During this conference call, the idea was apparently established to increase a loan amount - and shift income into a loan - in order to reduce Mr. Manafort's income and thus reduce his income taxes.

Bookkeeper Heather Washkuhn told jurors that Manafort sent a financial statement to Federal Savings Bank saying his company had made $3 million the first nine months of 2016, when his firm had actually lost more than $1 million the first 11 months of that year.

Laporta was granted immunity to testify.

On August 2, prosecutors said they had planned to call Gates to testify, but that did not happen, and they gave no indication in court when that might occur.

Trump has made his concern over the Manafort trial clear in public as well as in private, posting to his Twitter account on multiple occasions.

Jail mugshot of former Donald Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

The prosecution is alleging that Manafort purposely tried to inflate his reported income in statements he submitted to banks to secure loans to maintain his exorbitant lifestyle.

Prosecutor Greg Andres said it is the government's "intention to call Rick Gates as a witness" at some point in the trial. She says she could tell the document was falsified because the fonts were off and words were misspelled, including the month of September. It has also revealed how, when income from his Ukrainian political consulting work dried up, he struggled to pay his bills and, prosecutors say, began obtaining bank loans under false pretenses.

Kevin Downing, Manafort's attorney, signaled on Friday that his defense strategy might also involve raising questions about whether Manafort in fact had willfully deceived his accountants. The Manafort legal team has been working to convince the jury that Gates is to blame rather than their client.

But the president has also shown sympathy for Manafort's plight, suggesting his former aide is being treated worse than 1920s gangster Al Capone and taking issue with Manafort's pretrial confinement.

Gates pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation on "all matters" they deem relevant.

The store's chief financial officer, Ronald Wall, testified that Manafort paid for the clothes with wire transfers.

Other witnesses testifying this week said Manafort paid them millions from the offshore accounts tied to foreign shell companies for landscaping, expensive clothing and even a Karaoke machine. Maxwell testified that some of the Manafort invoices shown to him from prosecutors appeared to be have been forged.