Accountant Manafort admitted that he forged documents

AFP Contributor  AFP

Ayliff testified that in the process of filing Manafort's tax returns, the former Trump campaign chairman had multiple opportunities to disclose foreign bank accounts but did not do so.

Kathleen Manafort, walks to the Alexandria Federal Courthouse in Alexandria, Va., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, to attend the trial of her husband, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort's tax evasion and bank fraud trial.

Manafort's defense attorneys have signaled they will pin blame for any illegal conduct on Gates. After a back-and-forth discussion about how much income should be reclassified as a loan to aid Manafort, they settled on $900,000, she testified.

Prosecutors then asked Laporta how she felt about this decision. "One, I could have refused to file the tax returns, which could have exposed our firm to potential legal liability", she told the court.

Cotter, now a federal defense attorney, said the government doesn't always offer much in exchange for a plea, leading defendants to try their luck at trial.

But since loans are not taxable, she said the change "resulted in a tax amount due that could be paid by Mr. Manafort". They were booked to the same Cyprus entity, bringing the total to $1.9 million.

After a break, Laporta admitted that she went along with the plan even though she "knew it was wrong".

She says she would have documented them for tax purposes if he had.

Asonye then asked Laporta whether she believed the transactions were actually foreign loans.

"You believed it was false?"

She said she knowingly sent the fraudulent letter to the bank because she thought the institution would vet the document. You might argue that Democrats are going to say just the opposite, but that isn't exactly true.

Kevin Downing, a defense attorney for Mr. Manafort, said he would need about an hour to cross-examen Ms. Laporta.

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Ms. Laporta is the first witness to testify under a grant of immunity in Mr. Manafort's trial on charges of tax and bank fraud.

Most of the email evidence introduced today implicated Gates more directly than Manafort in a scheme to convert income into loans. And if Manafort was actively trying to circumvent lending laws, he wouldn't send emails to his accountant and bookkeeper about it.

Manafort signed an agreement to account for that loan that was backdated, according to Laporta and an exhibit shown to the jury. Though the charges concern the work he did in Ukraine for Yanukovych, they don't directly deal with Russia, nor with questions of Trump officials' dealings with Russian officials. And it remains murky exactly when Gates is expected to testify.

Washkuhn also detailed how after Manafort's political consulting money from Ukraine stopped coming in, around 2015, he and his company began piling up debt and financial woes.

Manafort faces charges of bank fraud and tax evasion that could put him in prison for the rest of his life.

Manafort's trial, being held in USA federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, is the first arising out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the interactions between Trump associates and Russian officials. All of those vendors testified that Manafort often paid with wire transfers from offshore bank accounts, which they told jurors was an "unusual method" of payment, CNN reported.

Ayliff told jurors that he handled Manafort's business and personal taxes for two decades and that his client always had a command of his complex returns. The firm, which charged Manafort about $100,000 a year, was hired to track all of his income and expenses for his business and personal accounts.

Some of the maneuvers were at the request of Gates, while others implicated Manafort, Laporta testified.

"I am confused", Gates said.

The president has recently tweeted about Manafort, asking if mob boss Al Capone or Manafort "was treated worse". "Not sure where that leaves us".

A group of witnesses testified about Manafort's lavish lifestyle.

On August 19, after another 92 days of running the Trump campaign through its most critical phases, including the convention, Manafort was forced to resign over questions about his financial links to deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, as well as Manafort's failure to register as a foreign agent even though he had lobbied the United States government on behalf of the Yanukovich regime.

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