Gates testifies he and Manafort committed crimes

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The government's star witness in the financial fraud trial of Paul Manafort testified today that he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the former Trump campaign chairman - and told jurors he and Manafort committed crimes together.

Gates, who is cooperating with prosecutors in the trial of Trump's former campaign chairman, testified that Manafort directed him to report overseas income as loans in order to lower his taxable income.

Gates, considered a star witness against Manafort, struck a plea deal with prosecutors to cooperate in the case against his former business partner.

Rick Gates has been regarded as a crucial witness for the government ever since he pleaded guilty this year to two felony charges and agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

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Under cross examination, she said at the time she believed Manafort was directing Gates' actions and "knew what was going on".

Manafort is on trial this week in a federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, facing charges of evading taxes on more than $60 million of income earned working for Ukrainian politicians.

Rick Gates has been regarded as a crucial government witness ever since he pleaded guilty a year ago and agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

But defense lawyers are trying to convince the jury that Manafort was consumed by his consulting business and left the particulars of his finances to professionals and, in particular, to Gates. Manafort attorney Kevin Downing will cross-examine Laporta, who is testifying under an immunity agreement because she feared prosecution for perjury or false statements. When a banker asked about $1.5 million debt that Manafort's company owed to a Cyrus entity called Peranova Holdings Limited, Gates produced a backdated document showing it was forgiven.

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Gates also admitted he embezzled money from his boss - something Manafort's attorneys have alleged for months.

It's important to note that some of the alleged bank fraud did occur while Manafort was running the Trump campaign.

Similar to prior witnesses, Ms Laporta testified Mr Gates and Mr Manafort were in lockstep but that Mr Manafort was in charge.

But Laporta's testimony raised the stakes for Manafort, legal experts said.

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Testimony from Mr Manafort's tax preparer continued on Monday. Mueller is also investigating possible coordination between Trump campaign members and Russian officials in the election campaign, but the charges against Manafort do not address that. One accounting trick saved Manafort $500,000 in taxes, she said.

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