Bookkeeper notes false info on Manafort forms

AFP Contributor  AFP

Accountant Cindy LaPorta said she had a sense that what Manafort and aide Rick Gates told her about funds being transferred into their worldwide political consulting business wasn't accurate. Laporta said that Gates sent her a backdated document purporting to memorialize the loan and that Manafort saved $400,000 to $500,000 in taxes.

"You make her say "I lied" as many times as you can", Axelrod said.

But defense lawyers are trying to convince the jury that Manafort was consumed by his consulting business and left the particulars of his finances to professionals and, in particular, to Gates.

"I could have called them liars", she said of Manafort and Gates. Ellis said. She said she knew it was false "because of the date". They were booked to the same Cyprus entity, bringing the total to $1.9 million. "I very much regret it", she told the courtroom. LaPorta also testified that she had seen documents that showed that there had been no payments on the loan between 2012 and 2014. Washkuhn said her bookkeeping system wouldn't let her do that. "You're entitled to go into that in any detail you want to", he said.

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further", the president tweeted.

Paul Manafort, shown in June, is on trial in federal court on 18 counts of tax and bank fraud. He pleaded guilty earlier this year and agreed to cooperate with the investigation, making him the government's star witness.

In one email introduced as evidence, Laporta asked Gates about any foreign account disclosures. But Manafort was copied in on several emails discussing the matter. "But Manafort might still offer a great deal of help for Mueller, for instance, discussing the history of financial back-and-forth between Trump and Russian Federation". Manafort's bookkeeper testified she was not aware of any foreign accounts that Manafort held and used to pay for millions in luxury purchases for himself.

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Mr Trump's remark coincided with the start of the trial this week of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on charges arising from Mr Mueller's inquiry. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and his trial is the first arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 US election.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort departs from U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., February 28, 2018.

For all the talk from Trump defenders and even some in the mainstream media that the Manafort trial has nothing to do with Trump, the president plainly feels differently.

Washkuhn also denied knowing about the companies Manafort used to wire money from overseas.

One of Manafort's accountants, Philip Ayliff testified Wednesday at the Alexandria Federal Courthouse in Virginia that Manafort told banks his Trump Tower condominium was his primary residence when it was in fact a rental property from which he was drawing income.

All told, prosecutors allege that Manafort failed to report a "significant percentage" of the more than $60 million they say he received from Ukrainian oligarchs.

He said Manafort paid for much of the work through worldwide wire transfer and was his only client to do so. Rather, she said, she could only print a PDF version and scan it before emailing it to Gates.

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"I am confused", Gates said. 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. Asonye asked. Ayliff said no. "Not sure where that leaves us".

Laporta detailed multiple examples in which Manafort and Gates sought to doctor financial records, first in order to lower Manafort's taxable income and then later to inflate his income so that he could get bank loans.

Earlier Friday, Ayliff testified that Manafort claimed he had no foreign accounts or interests on each of the annual tax forms that he filled out for Ayliff between 2011 and 2014.

When prosecutors asked if information of potential foreign accounts would be important to know, Laporta said that it would.

Jurors also for the first time heard from two of the people Manafort tasked with handling his finances - a bookkeeper and an accountant.

Similar to prior witnesses, Laporta testified that Gates and Manafort were in lockstep but that Manafort was in charge.

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