Manafort’s taxes to be focus of trial on Friday

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In truth, she said, she was anxious that the loan did not exist and was instead a ploy to lower Manafort's tax bill.

Four days into the trial, the prosecution has already called a number of witnesses who have steadily chipped away at Manafort's attempt at pinning the crimes on Gates.

When asked if she believed Mr. Manafort would actually receive the money, Ms. Laporta responded, "I have no idea". Laporta said she believed Paranova to be a client of Manafort's worldwide consulting firm but otherwise received no information or documents related to said entities.

A former accountant testified how she helped falsify income and tax statements for Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump's ex-campaign chairman, as prosecutors further buttressed their tax and bank fraud case against him.

Manafort faces tax and bank fraud charges stemming from his work for a pro-Russia politician in Ukraine.

Mueller alleges that Manafort and his deputy, Gates, began doctoring financial documents in order to obtain loans or to get better rates on loans.

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. LaPorta also testified that she had seen documents that showed that there had been no payments on the loan between 2012 and 2014. She came across as honest - even more so when she said that what she had done to help Manafort obtain bank loans was wrong.

A conviction would give momentum to Mueller's probe, in which 32 people and three companies have been indicted or pleaded guilty.

The prosecutors showed an email from 2011 in which Manafort's accountant asked Manafort whether he had any interest in foreign bank accounts, to which he replied "no". She said Manafort came to her with the request because Washkuhn would not comply with it. Manafort briefly managed President Donald Trump's election campaign in 2016. Ayliff said Gates was "working closely with Mr. Manafort", and was Manafort's "right hand" adviser.

But Ms. Laporta's actions weren't just limited to filing possible false tax returns. Several took notes in black notebooks, and virtually all looked at the monitors in front of them as attorneys zoomed in on portions of documents they sought to highlight. And a series of businessmen said he used worldwide wire transfers to pay for millions of dollars in luxury items.

Asonye flashed the tax returns, one by one, in front of the jurors, asking Ayliff in relation to each: How many foreign bank accounts did Manafort report having? It is not a crime, he has said several times, to be rich and to spend ostentatiously.

An FBI agent described the July 2017 raid on Manafort's home in Virginia saying searches found expensively tailored suits and documents related to other luxury items allegedly bought by Manafort, including two silk rugs for $160,000 (£122,000) paid for from offshore accounts.

As late as August 2016 - the same month he resigned from the Trump campaign - Manafort was sending emails to Laporta asking her to alter a profit-and-loss statement for his company.

When Ayliff flagged suspicious payments flowing from unfamiliar entities, the accountant said he was assured by Manafort or Manafort's partner, Rick Gates, that they had no control over accounts overseas. Andres asked Washkuhn if she had ever heard of 14 different shell-company bank accounts.

Kevin Downing, Manafort's attorney, signaled on Friday that his defense strategy might involve raising questions about whether Manafort in fact had willfully deceived Ayliff.

"Did you have difficulty getting information?" "We only dealt with Mr. Gates on business affairs".

Manafort signed an agreement to account for that loan that was backdated, according to Laporta and an exhibit shown to the jury.

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