The longtime business associate of former Trump 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort admitted to committing an entire catalog of crimes during his first day on the witness stand.
A trial which entered its fifth day, Manafort is facing 18 counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.
Offering testimony over a three-day period, Rick Gates, who served as the top deputy in Manafort’s lobbying business, revealed his complicity in a series of financial crimes, offering a terse “yes” when asked if he had been involved in criminal activity with Manafort and if he and Manafort had engaged in crimes.
Gates further testified he worked with Manafort and setup 15 foreign bank accounts to hide money from the U.S. government and disclosed he and Manafort took steps to avoid registering Manafort as a foreign agent.
Facing jurors after being asked if he had reported income, Gates acknowledged knowing he was committing crimes, and revealed he had conspired to falsify Manafort’s tax forms and lying to Manafort’s accountant about financial matters.
“We didn’t report the income or the foreign bank accounts,” Gates told the court.
Gates later confessed Manafort had personally directed him to report money wired from a foreign bank account as loans as opposed to income for the purpose of reducing Manafort’s taxable income. Gates also added Manafort had appealed to him to omit information from a court deposition.
Gates, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and a separate count of making a false statement to FBI agents in the Russia probe, also divulged he had embezzled money from Manafort’s consulting firm by inflating and fabricating expense reports.
Gates revealed the theft reached heights of “hundreds of thousands” of dollars and said it was also “possible” he charged personal items to then-President-elect Trump’s inaugural committee.
Gates’ testimony Monday followed the gripping account of Manafort’s former tax accountant, Cindy Laporta, who conceded last week she had falsified tax forms to hide income and altered documents to help Manafort obtain a loan.
Laporta also admitted she continued work for Manafort with the understanding he was aware of her actions.
[AP via PBS] [NBC News] [Photo courtesy The Indian Express]