Daily Updates Manafort accountant recalls backdated documents

HANNITY: Manafort Case 'HAS NOTHING TO DO' with Russia Collusion, President Trump

This gets to the crux of the tax evasion charges against the former Trump campaign manager, as the fact Manafort lied to his accountants about his overseas accounts diminishes his attorneys' attempts to pin the crimes on Gates. Another series of emails warned him of an upcoming deadline to pay property taxes on one of his homes in NY before penalties kicked in. Manafort was aware of the reported loan, which served to reduce his income, she said.

And at the end of the day Friday, an accountant named Cindy Laporta testified, under an immunity deal with prosecutors, that she had concerns when she helped Manafort apply for a bank loan that information he provided her was false. But since they were longtime clients, she "didn't want to do that either", she said.

And if he signed those documents to open the foreign accounts, that would mean he knew they existed, the former prosecutor said. Manafort faces 18 charges for financial crimes that carry a maximum penalty of 305 years behind bars.

Laporta said she knew what she did was "not appropriate", adding that "you can't pick and choose what's a loan and what's income". This was a minor problem, however, because KWC's policies don't require such documents to substantiate their clients' representations - unless audit services are requested, Laporta said.

Asked whether the money in the accounts was income to Manafort, Gates said, "it was".

Laporta testified that she told the bank, at Manafort's or Gates' direction, that the loan had been forgiven.

Testimony also came from Manafort's former bookkeeper Heather Washkuhn, who said she too was unaware of his foreign holdings and had relied on him to say whether wire transfers should be designated as loans or as income.

Laporta also told jurors about another $1.5 million loan on the books of Manafort's company that caused Citizens Bank to balk at issuing a new loan on property Manafort owned in Manhattan. Washkuhn was also shown a financial document sent to a bank. Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye asked Laporta on Friday afternoon.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who repeatedly interrupted prosecutors last week as they tried to present evidence about Manafort's lavish life - including $900,000 in expensive suits and a $15,000 ostrich jacket - clashed again with prosecutor Greg Andres on Monday when Andres delved into the status and identities of the Eastern Europeans who made payments to Manafort.




The judge said: "But you still went ahead and used it?"

Mark Reinstein via Getty Images Paul Manafort stands between President Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump during a sound check at the Republican National Convention in July 2016.

Taking the stand on the trial's fifth day, Gates admitted to helping Manafort doctor financial statements, hide sources of foreign income, mislead banks to get loans and cheat on his USA taxes. Mr Gates pleaded guilty in February and is expected to testify against Mr Manafort, possibly next week.

In another email, this one from Manafort to Laporta, the defendant allegedly wrote, "see below for my answer" and "see answers below". Short and soft-spoken, Ms. Laporta did not hide her suspicions that Mr. Manafort's financial records had been doctored.

When asked if she believed the loan had been forgiven, Ms. Laporta hesitated before saying, "no". Those include Gates, who pleaded guilty earlier this year and is expected to testify soon as the government's star witness. It's the first courtroom test of Mueller's team, which is tasked with looking into Russia's efforts to interfere with the US election and whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Moscow to sway voters.

The trial, however, is not about Russian Federation, or any such conspiracy, focused instead on the personal and business finances of Manafort, Trump's onetime campaign chairman. But a conviction of Trump's campaign chairman, even if it's on charges related to what he was doing before he joined the campaign, will make it even harder than it is now to claim that the investigation should never have begun in the first place and should be shut down immediately.

In his opening statement Tuesday, defense lawyer Tom Zehnle told the jury they should expect to hear how Manafort never faced a federal inquiry about his taxes, making it suspicious that prosecutors brought this case. A witness from a home electronics company said Manafort spent more than $2 million over a five-year period with his company.

The emails will provide the jurors a glimpse into the private conversations between Manafort and Gates, the man to whom he entrusted his personal and business finances.

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