Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates admits embezzlement

Longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates admits embezzlement

Special counsel Robert Mueller's star witness took the stand on Monday in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, capping a week of contradictory messages from the Mueller team about whether Rick Gates would testify against his former boss.

On day five of the trial in Alexandria, Virginia, Gates was asked by the prosecutor whether he had committed any crimes with Mr Manafort, and he said: "Yes".

Notably, after urging prosecutors to speed things along as jurors heard from 14 witnesses last week, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said late on August 3 that Downing could begin his questioning of Laporta on Monday and wouldn't rush him.

Gates has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe after he cut a plea deal earlier this year.

Gates also reportedly told the court on Monday that he had been told by Mr Manafort not to disclose foreign bank accounts.

HuffPost Illustration/Getty Images Rick Gates, the star witness in the case against Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

He also admitted to concealing millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts on Manafort's behalf and to falsifying loan applications and other documents to help Manafort obtain more in bank loans.

Gates already pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy against the United States and another count of making false statements to federal investigators. Mr Gates was Mr Manafort's partner in the consultancy. Testifying under immunity, she was the first witness to admit she knew accounting manoeuvres Manafort and Gates requested of her were wrong and could be crimes. Similar to prior witnesses, Laporta testified that Gates and Manafort were in lockstep but that Manafort was in charge. Last week, another Manafort attorney, Thomas Zehnle, depicted Gates as a liar who embezzled millions of dollars while going behind his boss's back.

Gates served as Manafort's business partner for almost a decade until 2016, when the two joined the Trump campaign for president.

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.

Ms Laporta, looking at a summary of loans to Mr Manafort and his businesses, said she could not see any indication the loan from Mr Deripaska had been paid off.

The most critical moment in the financial fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will likely arrive this week with the testimony of his "right-hand man" - the person defense attorneys blame for any crimes.

The Manafort trial marks the first major court test for the Mueller investigation. In calling Gates, the government will present jurors with the firsthand account of a co-conspirator expected to say Manafort was knee-deep in an alleged scheme to hide millions of dollars from the IRS and defraud several banks.

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