Manafort Accountant Admits Possible Wrongdoing During Trial

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The first week of Paul Manafort's trial for bank and tax fraud charges is complete.

Philip Ayliff, an accountant who prepared Manafort's taxes, told the jury Manafort lied about his foreign bank accounts and didn't list them on his tax forms.

In fact, Trump hired Manafort on March 29, 2016, to organize his campaign's efforts at the Republican National Convention, according to ABC News.

A defense lawyer for Manafort encouraged jurors in his opening statement to consider whether prosecutors had enough evidence to begin an audit of Manafort.

"All they have left to show - and an agent can do this - is who had authority to make transactions from those foreign accounts", the former DOJ attorney said.

Laporta testified that they all ultimately chose to decrease the loan amount by $900,000 on Manafort's 2014 tax returns before submitting his 2015 one so that Manafort could afford to pay his bills.

On Friday, a tax preparer even admitted that she helped disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a sham loan to lower Manafort's tax bill.

Manafort's attorneys have sought to pin any illegal conduct on longtime Manafort deputy, Rick Gates. She said she didn't believe the loan existed, but that she went along with it anyway because Manafort was a longtime client.

Prosecutors in Paul Manafort's financial crimes trial want a judge to bar defense lawyers from arguing to the jury that he was never audited.

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Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for arraignment on a third superseding indictment against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on charges of witness tampering, at US District Court in Washington, US June 15, 2018.

If the trial continues quickly, it could wrap up before a second, more consequential, trial against Manafort begins.

Contradicting earlier statements, Trump acknowledged on Sunday that his son met with Russians in 2016 at Trump Tower to get information on election opponent Hillary Clinton. 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.

Laporta also described an effort by Manafort and Gates to falsify financial records that would allow Manafort to obtain mortgage loans.

Some of the maneuvers were at the request of Gates, while others implicated Manafort, Laporta testified. Prosecutors say the documents inflated the net income of his business by roughly $4 million, and they say he tried to pass them off as coming from her accounting firm.

Prosecutors said Manafort evaded taxes through this scheme. Those others include Gates, who pleaded guilty earlier this year and is expected to testify soon as the government's star witness. Asked why such accounts would be important to a tax-preparing accountant, Laporta said the information would be necessary to properly account for income, any possible foreign income taxes owed, and for FBAR purposes - because the penalties were severe for noncompliance with the federal foreign account reporting regime. Wu said he was speaking as an observer now that he is no longer involved in the case.

Ms. LaPorta's testimony is likely a blow to defense attorneys' claim that Mr. Gates was the one responsible for the bank and tax fraud.

Ms. Laporta also told the court that when Mr. Manfort was trying to get a loan from Federal Savings Bank, she stepped in to produce a profit and loss statement that showed $2.5 million of income Mr. Manafort earned in the Ukraine would be deposited into his account. Gates said he did so at Manafort's direction. That's how people learned he once spent more than $400,000 in a single year on his own personal wardrobe, paying handsomely for it with it through global wire transfers from foreign bank accounts, according to witnesses and prosecutors. And it remains murky exactly when Gates is expected to testify.

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