Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's accountant admitted she filed tax returns that she was aware may have been criminally fraudulent, at Manafort's tax fraud trial in Alexandria, Virginia, Friday.
Prosecutors have said the accounts Manafort used were never declared to the IRS, part of a long-running scheme, they allege, to evade paying taxes on millions of dollars in income. She is the first witness in the trial to testify under immunity from the government.
The result, Laporta said, was an altered tax payment that Gates told her "could be paid by Mr. Manafort". "At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!" he tweeted then. "One, I could have refused to file", potentially exposing the firm to the risk of litigation. "You can't pick and chose what's a loan and what's income", she said.
But, she said, "Mr. Manafort was a longtime client of the firm and I didn't want to do that".
Laporta testified that she told the bank, at Manafort's or Gates' direction, that the loan had been forgiven.
As mentioned, prosecutors say they hope to rest their case this week. After a back-and-forth discussion about how much income should be reclassified as a loan to aid Manafort, they settled on $900,000, she testified.
Earlier on Friday prosecutors asked Ayliff about Manafort's accounting of a $1.5 million transfer in 2012 from Peranova Holdings Ltd as a loan, even as records showed that no interest or principal was paid on it in subsequent years.
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A bookkeeper for Manafort's company testified Thursday that Manafort was broke by 2016 and sent false income statements to banks to obtain loans.
Prosecutors then asked Laporta how she felt about this decision.
This courtroom sketch depicts Paul Manafort, fourth from right, standing with his lawyers in front of U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, center rear, and the selected jury, seated left, during the jury selection of his trial at the Alexandria Federal Courthouse in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday. Gates' plea deal documents also note that he made "false and misleading representations to a law firm" working for Mercury Public Affairs, which was one of the firms engaged in the work for Ukraine.
Trump's attorneys and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said the president was expressing his opinion and not giving an order.
By listing it as a rental property on his tax forms, Manafort saved thousands of dollars in taxes.
Specifically, Laporta testified that Gates said Manafort's tax bill was "too high" and that Manafort "didn't have the money" to pay it.
The foreign entities, prosecutors have suggested, were all shell, or pass-through, companies, set up by Manafort to handle the income he was earning from his Ukraine work.
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"There's a lot of changes", Washkuhn said, as the two profit and loss statements were showed side-by-side in court.
Ellis, the judge, granted Laporta immunity at the request of the special counsel. Prosecutors said that Manafort used tax-free income stashed in Cyprus accounts to support a lavish lifestyle.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said after Mr Trump's tweet: "It is clear to me he is very anxious about it and he wants to prevent it any way he can".
Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax and banking crimes. "These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion - a Hoax!"
The retired accountant, Philip Ayliff, told jurors that Manafort had emailed him in January 2015 as he was seeking a mortgage on the unit from UBS. If Manafort is acquitted, they will indeed say that it doesn't prove much of anything about the broader Russian Federation investigation, because the investigation goes far beyond Manfort.
And regardless of the outcome, what we've learned so far shows that Manafort should never have gotten within a mile of a major party nominee's campaign, much less been tapped to run it. "He worked for me for a very short time".
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