Monday 22 October 2018

Rick Gates describes funnelling millions through Cyprus accounts

Mr Manafort’s defence attorneys have sought to paint Mr Gates as an embezzler, liar and the instigator of any criminal conduct.

A courtroom sketch depicts Rick Gates testifying during questioning (Dana Verkouteren/AP)
A courtroom sketch depicts Rick Gates testifying during questioning (Dana Verkouteren/AP)

By Eric Tucker, Chad Day and Matthew Barakat, Associated Press

Paul Manafort’s long-time deputy has told jurors how he spent years disguising millions of dollars in foreign income as loans to lower the former Trump campaign chairman’s tax bill.

Rick Gates, the government’s star witness, recounted how he and Mr Manafort used offshore shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus to funnel the money, all while concealing the accounts and the income from the IRS.

“In Cyprus, they were documented as loans. In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts,” Mr Gates said during his second day of testimony in the financial fraud trial of his former boss.

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A courtroom sketch depicts former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort (Dana Verkouteren/AP)

Prosecutors summoned Mr Gates, described by witnesses as Mr Manafort’s “right-hand man,” to give jurors the first-hand account of a co-conspirator they say helped Mr Manafort carry out an elaborate offshore tax-evasion and bank fraud scheme.

Mr Manafort’s defence attorneys have sought to paint Mr Gates as an embezzler, liar and the instigator of any criminal conduct. They have several times tried to impugn his credibility before the jury.

Mr Gates walked into a packed courtroom a day after he calmly acknowledged having embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mr Manafort and said the two had committed crimes together by stashing money in foreign bank accounts and falsifying bank loan documents.

Mr Manafort and Mr Gates were the first two people indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

But Mr Gates pleaded guilty months later and agreed to cooperate in Mr Mueller’s investigation of Mr Manafort, the only American charged by the special counsel to opt for trial instead of a guilty plea.

Mr Gates, who said he has met with the government 20 times ahead of his testimony, is expected to face a bruising cross-examination later as defence lawyers try to undercut his credibility and pin the blame on him.

Press Association

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