Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Gates Describes Manafort Orders While Defense Hammers 'Secret Life'

Gates Describes Manafort Orders While Defense Hammers 'Secret Life'

Gates, who was Manafort's longtime business associate, had testified on Tuesday that he had an affair in London, where he maintained an apartment for two months.

Manafort's lawyer suggested that the affair - which included a London pad, first-class plane trips and luxury hotels - cost up to $3 million.

That's important to prosecutors, who need to not only prove Manafort skimped on paying millions of dollars in taxes.

Earlier Tuesday, Gates told the court that Manafort would frequently pay for clothing, landscaping and other personal expenses using wire transfers directly from his bank accounts in Cyprus and others in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

When Yanukovych lost power, Gates testified that "decreased the income stream" significantly for Manafort, and his financial situation "substantially decreased" from prior years. However, Gates also said the agents did not ask about tax returns and "the majority of the Cypriot accounts were closed" at the stage.

In another heated exchange, Downing tried to press Gates into explicitly saying that he had embezzled money from Manafort.

Gates struck a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller in February, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "You told me you were on top of this", he wrote Gates in April 2015.

Gates proved essential to prosecutors' attempt to tie Manafort to the dozens of foreign bank accounts in Cyprus, the United Kingdom, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines where he allegedly hid millions of dollars of taxable income from the IRS for almost a decade.

Gates, who is cooperating with U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, testified on Monday that he helped Manafort doctor financial statements, hide foreign income and evade hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. income taxes. Regarding a trading company Manafort had started with a partner in 2011, he asked with deep scepticism: "You're asking the jury to believe Mr Manafort authorised another US$250,000 as a bonus?"

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Defense attorney Kevin Downing pushed as hard as he could for the last two hours of Tuesday's proceedings to get a rise out of Gates, who refused to engage with more than flat, passionless responses. However, the Manafort case - as President Donald Trump has been quick to point out - focuses on Manafort's business dealings and has no direct connection to Manafort's work with the Trump campaign.

The 46-year-old former political consultant told jurors how Manafort asked for tickets to Trump's inauguration so he could give them to a banker involved in approving a loan at the center of his financial fraud trial.

As for the bank fraud charges against Manafort, prosecutors presented the most compelling evidence yet that he knowingly inflated his income when applying for loans.

More recently, after the launch of the Mueller investigation but before his plea bargain, Gates lied to the FBI about a meeting between Manafort and an unnamed US Congressman regarding a "specific issue".

While Gates and others have pleaded guilty, Manafort has refused to strike a deal and legal experts say he may be holding out hopes of a pardon from Trump.

In October 2016, for instance, Gates sent Manafort DMP's profit and loss statement (P&L) from January 1 through June 30 of that year, emails introduced in court Tuesday show.

Gates's testimony wrapped moment later. "In reality, it was basically money moving between accounts", Gates said.

And Gates faced fraud charges from the special counsel after it discovered he had written a letter to a Swiss movie production company falsely claiming that his own production company was investing in a film project by his friend, Steve Brown.

Gates appeared shaky at times in answering questions, contrasting sharply with his firm and clear answers to questions by prosecutors.

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