Longtime Manafort deputy Rick Gates admits embezzlement

Rick Gates leaves federal court in Washington. Paul Manafort’s trial opened this week with a display of his opulent lifestyle and testimony about what prosecutors say were years of financial deception. But the

For instance, on Monday, after federal financial crimes specialist Paula Liss testified that neither Manafort nor his wife had reported foreign bank accounts to her agency, FinCEN, defense attorney Tom Zehnle asked her if a person owning less than 51 percent of a company would need to report those accounts.

As a sober Gates recited his testimony, Manafort reacted about the way you'd expect.

Gates, whose testimony in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, was continuing, was expected to be a star witness in the government's case, having pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors under a deal that could lead to a reduced sentence.

Rick Gates testified today that he committed crimes while working with Paul Manafort.

An attorney for Manafort, Kevin Downing, let it slip earlier in the afternoon that Gates would testify on Monday, intensifying the tension in the courtroom. Gates has been described by witnesses as Manafort's right-hand man who helped run the operations of a multimillion-dollar political consulting business. He said on Monday that, "at Mr. Manafort's request", he lied to Manafort's accountants about Manafort's control over certain foreign accounts.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

The fifth day of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's trial, after a weekend break, surprised the attendees in the courtroom when prosecutors called Manafort's longtime deputy Rick Gates to testify. Gates studiously avoided Manafort's gaze and looked only at Andres, the judge or the jury.

The jury has heard how Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

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

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

Rick Gates has been regarded as a crucial witness for the government ever since he pleaded guilty this year to two felony charges and agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

Some of the manoeuvrers were at the request of Mr Gates, while others implicated Mr Manafort, Ms Laporta testified. In exchange, the government promised not to bring additional charges against him and drop a second indictment against him on tax and bank fraud charges.

Gates and Manafort worked closely together for years.

Gates also mentioned one of his recent employers, President Donald Trump, though he did not use his name.

Instead, prosecutors called a different witness named Paula Liss. But court watchers had been eagerly awaiting Gates, who both the prosecution and defense seem to be hoping will be at the center of their case. The White House says Mr. Trump feels his former campaign chair is being treated unfairly.

But Ms Laporta's testimony raised the stakes for Mr Manafort, legal experts said. When Robert Mueller began investigating Russian interference a year ago, Manafort's questionable lobbying work - the sort of activity that has historically rarely been investigated in Washington - was put under a microscope, exposing him and his associates.

Downing also accused Gates of embezzling "millions", a higher amount than Gates later admitted to in his testimony. Gates will follow the testimony of tax preparer Cindy Laporta, who says she came to suspect Gates was misleading her about Manafort's finances.

But Mr Manafort is not charged with helping the Kremlin.

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