World News

Manafort lied on his taxes to get $500K reduction: accountant

Manafort lied on his taxes to get $500K reduction: accountant

One of Paul Manafort's tax preparers says she helped disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan in order to reduce the former Trump campaign chairman's tax burden.

Prosecutors in the trial of President Donald Trump's former aide Paul Manafort continued to focus on Manafort's finances Friday during the fourth day of his trial, as his former accountant testified.

Laporta, who testified under a grant of immunity from prosecutors, said she knew what she did was "not appropriate", adding that "you can't pick and choose what's a loan and what's income".

One-by-one, a retired carpenter, a natty clothier and a high-end landscaper detailed how Manafort paid them in global wire transfers from offshore companies.

Manafort attorney Thomas Zehnle pressed Washkuhn on whether Gates was regularly involved in approving expenses, but the bookkeeper said that "mainly Mr. Manafort was the approval source".

Prosecutors are looking to present Gates as Manafort's accomplice in a scheme to evade the IRS and defraud banks.

Mr Manafort's attorneys have signalled they will seek to blame Mr Gates, who was Mr Trump's deputy campaign chairman in 2016. "Or two, I could have called [Manafort and Gates] liars". Gates pleaded guilty in February and is expected to testify against Manafort, possibly next week.

The defense has argued that even if Manafort did direct the effort to inflate his income on his loan applications, it doesn't prove that he willfully broke the law. Prosecutors allege he used the money he made overseas to fund his expensive tastes, including nearly $1 million on suits and $15,000 on an ostrich leather jacket.

Laporta testified that the 2014 loan agreement "didn't exist before the conversation" she had with Gates in 2015. Such accounts must be reported to tax authorities if they contain $US10,000 or more.

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Washkuhn, who handled Manafort's finances from 2011 to 2018, testified that as Manafort's lobbying work in Ukraine slowed down, he began to fall behind on payments - including money he owed to her - in 2016.

Trump has somewhat distanced himself from Manafort in the past months, tweeting that his former top campaign official worked for him "only for a very short time" and asking why the government didn't tell the Trump campaign that Manafort was under investigation. Gates became upset when Washkuhn said she couldn't sent him pdf documents as Microsoft Word files, which are more easily altered, she testified.

It was one of several times that Laporta testified that she accepted questionable financial statements pressed on her by Gates or Manafort, including some involving other loans prosecutors say were shams to hide income.

During one series of questions, prosecutors asked Laporta about loans from two distinct entities, Telmar and Paranova.

He said Weissmann was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton and was also in attendance at what was supposed to be her election night victory party at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

The proceedings ended before Manafort attorney Kevin Downing could cross-examine her. Greg Andres, a member of Mueller's team, confirmed that the prosecution will call on Gates. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to financial charges and lying to federal investigators, and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigators.

One way to do that could be to show that documents Manafort had provided to the accountant contained details about foreign bank accounts.

Washkuhn never recorded the existence of any foreign bank accounts for Manafort while she kept his books, she said. Maxwell testified that some of the Manafort invoices shown to him from prosecutors appeared to be have been forged.

The store's chief financial officer, Ronald Wall, testified that Manafort paid for the clothes with wire transfers.


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