Rick Gates called to testify at Paul Manafort’s fraud trial

07 August, 2018, 00:41 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
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Paul Manafort's former business partner, Rick Gates, took the witness stand on Monday for what may be the most critical testimony in Manafort's bank and tax fraud trial.

Speaking at Manafort's trial late that afternoon, Gates bluntly answered the prosecutor's questions.

"Were you involved in any criminal activity with Mr. Manafort?" a prosecutor on special counsel Robert Mueller's team asked Gates, the key witness in the charges brought against Manafort. When a banker asked about $1.5 million debt that Manafort's company owed to a Cyrus entity called Peranova Holdings Limited, Gates produced a backdated document showing it was forgiven.

Rick Gates, Paul Manafort's former business partner, is expected to testify in federal court Monday.

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Gates was Manafort's right-hand man during the pair's lobbying work in Ukraine.

His testimony is important for prosecutors: The federal judge in the trial, U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, said in court last week they "can't prove conspiracy" in the case unless prosecutors call Gates to the stand. Ellis issued that warning after prosecutors suggested Gates might not be called to the stand after all.

Downing will probably focus on Laporta's interactions with Gates, who pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller. Attorney Thomas Zehnle accused Gates of embezzling money from Manafort's consulting firm and said that Gates was now agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors to cover his tracks.

Prosecutors will move to admit those exchanges to the record when Gates takes the stand.

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Gates and Manafort worked closely together for years.

But she said she was under the impression that Mr Manafort had been directing his deputies' actions and "knew what was going on".

Manafort is on trial this week in a federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, facing charges of evading taxes on more than $60 million of income earned working for Ukrainian politicians. The effect of the loan was to reduce Manafort's income by that amount and reduce his taxes, she said.

But Manafort's defense team is expected to use Gates, too.

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