Rick Gates says he and Manafort disguised foreign income as loans

Rick Gates says he and Manafort disguised foreign income as loans

The judge then brought the trial to a standstill late Tuesday afternoon, calling a brief recess.

Even before Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie was sworn in July 30, he discovered what his predecessor, David Shulkin, had known: The real power at the VA resides at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump's private club in Florida, wielded by a triumvirate of Mar-a-Lago members led by Ike Perlmutter, the nearly comically reclusive CEO of Marvel Entertainment, Isaac Arnsdorf reports at ProPublica. Gates said that these loans were actually income.

Rick Gates says that he told Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and Justice Department lawyers about some of the offshore companies that contained millions of dollars in proceeds from their Ukrainian political work. Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts containing tens of millions of dollars earned from work for Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine.

Manafort's defense team's primary strategy has been to pin much of the blame for financial crimes on Gates, and some observers felt Downing made some headway toward that goal on Tuesday.

Ahead of that barrage, Gates has implicated himself in a vast amount of criminal conduct on the stand, an apparent strategic decision by prosecutors as they hope to take some of the steam out of the defense's questioning. But Gates conceded he took business trips to Las Vegas with an accused fraudster, Steven Brown, using money from Manafort's accounts in the U.S.

"They were documented as loans, but in reality they were funds moving between the accounts".

Prosecutors summoned Gates to give jurors the first-hand account of a co-conspirator they say helped Manafort carry out an elaborate offshore tax-evasion and bank fraud scheme.

But that changed Tuesday during a full day of testimony by Rick Gates, the prosecution's star witness and another former member of the campaign.

Gates pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of lying to an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in exchange for testifying against his former boss. He's expected to go for at least another hour in questioning with Manafort's attorney's.

Part of that record were several emails Manafort sent Gates.

In 2015 and 2016, Gates said, Manafort "requested a team of people to pull together" documents to apply for bank loans in order to keep pace with payments to maintain his luxurious lifestyle. Gates testified that Manafort asked him to float Calk, who was on Trump's economic advisory council, for Secretary of the Army. Manafort and Gates left no fingerprints. And the fact that after loaning Manafort millions of dollars Calk became an economic adviser to Trump casts doubt on Trump's famous pledge to "drain the swamp" and puncture the rampant influence peddling in Washington.

Gates was hired by Manafort to serve as deputy campaign chairman and later had a role on Mr Trump's inaugural committee. Courtroom illustration courtesy of Bill Hennessy.

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. Gates also fabricated a forgiveness letter for what he said was already a fake loan between Manafort's consulting company and a Cypriot entity he controlled. "Mr. Manafort had the same path". When the trial broke for lunch, Manafort looked back at his wife, sitting in the front row, smiled and winked at her, followed by a quick shake of his head, seeming to indicate he was unfazed by the morning's testimony.

Gates (46) admitted he had embezzled from other employers; he had volunteered the information once he began cooperating.

Gates on Monday admitted he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing false bank statements.

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