Manafort Trial Turns to Tax Returns Mueller Says Are Phony

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Laporta testified she knew an accounting treatment for a loan was wrong when preparing Manafort's tax return for 2014.

Specifically, Laporta testified that Gates said Manafort's tax bill was "too high" and that Manafort "didn't have the money" to pay it.

Laporta also told prosecutors she "very much" regrets filing Manafort's tax returns. To ease that burden, she said, Gates instructed her to misrepresent $900,000 in income as a business loan.

Laporta was testifying under an immunity agreement.

Prosecutors then asked Laporta how she felt about this decision.

When prosecutor Greg Andres read off some of the offshore companies to Manafort's bookkeeper, she said Manafort never told her about them.

But, she said, "Mr. Manafort was a longtime client of the firm and I didn't want to do that".

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

Phillip Ayliff said a $1.5 million loan from an entity called Pernova Holdings raised a red flag because there was no documentation.

"That's news to me and about 25 others who scurried out of here like rats on a sinking ship", Judge Ellis told Asonye. He then switched from hiding his income in foreign bank accounts to inflating it so American banks would extend millions in real estate loans to him. One way to do that could be to show that documents Manafort had provided to the accountant contained details about foreign bank accounts.

The most significant moment on Friday, however, came when assistant U.S. attorney Uzo Asonye asked Laporta to describe a conference call in September 2015.

T.S. Ellis, a 78-year-old Reagan-appointed judge in the case known for colorful comments, said this week that the prosecution can not prove a key part of their case unless prosecutors call Gates to the stand.

"Did you believe those representations?"

Carlson said the average sentence for tax fraud is about one year in prison, yet Manafort is facing up to 305 years.

"Nobody intending to violate the law would leave the evidence around for his accountant to find it", Manfort's lead attorney Kevin Downing said in the courtroom Friday.

Tax evasion is also one of the charges Manafort now faces in his federal trial, along with bank fraud, as The Washington Post noted.

One of the witnesses who testified for the prosecution on July 31 was Thomas A. Devine, a Democratic political consultant Manafort hired to develop a media strategy for Yanukovych. The way President Donald Trump sees it, Al Capone, the most famous gangster in American history, got off easy compared to Manafort.

Joyce Vance, a law professor at the University of Alabama, explained on MSNBC Friday that Manafort may yet prove himself to be a key figure in a potential case of collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign to interfere in the election. He wanted to send it to Federal Savings Bank, LaPorta said. Nevertheless, she wrote an email to loan officers saying the income would be received by November of that year. Asked if she believed the loan had been forgiven, LaPorta said she did not believe that at the time.

Manafort, 69, is charged with bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

The admission is the first time a witness has acknowledged knowing involvement in potential wrongdoing during Manafort's trial, where the longtime lobbyist is fighting charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. So she went ahead and filed the false tax return.

The jury heard testimony from the chief operating officer of an audio and visual equipment company that did lucrative business with Manafort.

"It's kind of leading up to Gates" testimony that, "Yep, this is what he was telling me to do, '" the former US prosecutor said.

Each year, Paul Manafort never made note of any such foreign accounts, she testified. Asonye asked. Ayliff said no. One witness, Maximillian Katzman, testified that Manafort spent more than $900,000 at his boutique retailer in NY. Classifying the property as a personal residence would have made it easier to obtain the mortgage at a low rate.

Ayliff responded to Manafort that "we have always treated it as a rental".

Other witnesses have testified Manafort paid them millions from the offshore accounts tied to foreign shell companies for landscaping, expensive clothing and even a Karaoke machine.

And if Manafort did indeed open those accounts, that inherently means he knew they existed - and that he failed to report them to his tax preparers. The indictment says he and Gates moved money from Ukraine through foreign bank accounts to hide it from the Internal Revenue Service.

But in this special extra for "Trump, Inc.", Andrea Bernstein of WNYC and Franklin Foer of The Atlantic, both of whom have reported extensively on Manafort in the past and are attending parts of the trial, dissect the first day along with WNYC's Ilya Marritz, producing insights and observations. A second trial is scheduled for September in the District of Columbia. It would address allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the USA government.

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