Week One Of Manafort's Trial: Lavish Lifestyle And Falsified Documents

Week One Of Manafort's Trial: Lavish Lifestyle And Falsified Documents

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.

Cindy Laporta, an accountant with Kositzka Wicks & Co. testified that she classified income from foreign companies allegedly controlled by Mr. Manafort as "loans" so he could avoid paying taxes on it.

Manafort's defense attorneys do not seem to have scored a lot of points on cross-examination, Futterman said, but added that the witnesses who have testified so far are not "the main targets".

Ms Laporta said she knew it was "inappropriate" but agreed to alter the records to show that Mr Manafort's firm received a $US1.2 million loan from Telmar in 2014, a change that would save Mr Manafort almost a half million dollars in U.S. taxes, Ms Laporta said.

In other efforts to help Manafort, Laporta testified that she backed up his assertion he was using his Manhattan condominium as a second home so he could qualify for a lower mortgage interest rate from banks, even though records showed he had been renting the property on Airbnb to generate more cash.

Reading aloud from an email, Ayliff said Manafort told him to classify the apartment as a personal residence in any conversation with the bank. Laporta said she later regretted her actions but at the time didn't want to risk losing a lucrative client. He wanted to send it to Federal Savings Bank, LaPorta said.

And if Manafort did indeed open those accounts, that inherently means he knew they existed - and that he failed to report them to his tax preparers.

Asked why she engaged in misconduct, Laporta said she had few good choices. He said Manafort was the only business client of his who paid via global wire transfer. Mr. Gates responded by sending a forged forgiveness letter, Ms. Laporta testified. She says she could tell the document was falsified because the fonts were off and words were misspelled, including the month of September.

But when applying for a loan at UBS, he wanted to buff up his reported income to demonstrate he had the means to pay it back.

Prosecutors also showed the jury March 2016 emails between Laporta and Gates about fabricating a forgiveness letter on another, $1.5 million loan that Citizen's Bank needed.

Washkuhn also said profit and loss statements Manafort submitted to obtain bank loans contained false information.

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"You can't pick and choose what's a loan and what's income", she said. In any given year, it's around $400,000, she said.

"You could tell he had a visceral reaction to that", said Patrick Grasso, a retired civil servant from Alexandria.

Prosecutors are trying to rebut defense arguments that Manafort can't be responsible for financial fraud because he left the details of his spending to others. He pleaded guilty earlier this year and agreed to cooperate with the investigation, making him the government's star witness.

Manafort signed an agreement to account for that loan that was backdated, according to Laporta and an exhibit shown to the jury.

Before joining Mr Trump's team in summer 2016, Paul Manafort had worked on a number of Republican presidential campaigns, including those of Gerald Ford in the mid-1970s and Ronald Reagan from 1978 to 1980.

The witness list appeared to be part of a broader strategy to directly link Manafort to the alleged financial fraud that government lawyers say enabled his extravagant lifestyle.

Manafort faces tax and bank fraud charges stemming from his work for a pro-Russia politician in Ukraine.

Manafort's attorneys have signalled they will seek to blame Gates, who was Trump's deputy campaign chairman in 2016.

As he has every day since the trial began, Manafort sat quietly throughout the proceedings, dressed in a suit and tie, flanked by his defense lawyers.

"It is hard for me to see how Manafort escapes a conviction on those counts", former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti tweeted about the tax evasion charges.

Gates is Manafort's business associate. 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.

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