Accountant Manafort admitted that he forged documents


Special prosecutor Uzo Asonye is depicted questioning certified public accountant Philip Ayliff about one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's tax returns. And a series of businessmen said he used global wire transfers to pay for millions of dollars in luxury items.

The trial is the first to stem from the Russian Federation probe by special counsel Robert Mueller, who was tasked previous year with investigating the Kremlin's efforts to sway the US presidential election and potential collusion with the Trump campaign. The "loans", which the prosecution charges came from foreign companies Manafort himself owned, totaled $2.4 million.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that Trump thinks both the media and Mueller are using Manafort's trial on bank and tax fraud charges this week to try to undercut his presidency.

Heather Washkuhn of the accounting firm NKFSB says that Manafort approved "every penny" of the personal bills she paid for him but he kept her in the dark about any offshore bank accounts.

For all the talk from Trump defenders and even some in the mainstream media that the Manafort trial has nothing to do with Trump, the president plainly feels differently.

Establishing that Trump's one-time campaign chief was heavily connected with Kremlin characters doesn't prove conspiracy to acquire help during the election, but it sure does bolster the credibility of the investigators and underscores how preposterous were the dozens of denials that the campaign had any Russian Federation contacts. Regolizio said he never met, communicated with or received payments from Gates, Manafort's longtime deputy on whom defense attorneys have indicated they'd like to pin the alleged crimes.

The prosecutors say that line of inquiry would only be appropriate, if at all, if Manafort were to take the stand.

Amid the headline-grabbing details about Manafort's extravagant spending ― the $15,000 ostrich jacket, the thousands of dollars worth of suits, the red flowers in the shape of an "M" ― prosecutors' narrative about Manafort's shady financial dealings is going to be hard to refute.

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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.

Bookkeepers and accountants are expected to testify in the third day of trial for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and the trial is clearly on the mind of his former boss, President Donald Trump, who tweeted several times about the case on Wednesday.

Accountant Cindy LaPorta said she had a sense that what Manafort and aide Rick Gates told her about funds being transferred into their worldwide political consulting business wasn't accurate. Prosecutors allege that Manafort paid for the costly clothing and other items through wire transfers from the offshore accounts.

Prosecutors charged that Manafort lied on applications for bank and mortgage loans by back-dating loans issued by one of his foreign entities to his consulting company. Laporta was the first witness to testify under immunity from the prosecution, an indication she would otherwise have been opening herself up to legal trouble. That was somewhat surprising given that the defense counsel has thrown relatively few questions at prosecution witnesses. Prosecutors said that Manafort used tax-free income stashed in Cyprus accounts to support a lavish lifestyle.

As part of his guilty plea, Gates acknowledged routinely dealing with accountants in the preparation of Manafort's tax returns and misleading them with false information, although he said he did so with Manafort's knowledge. Ms. Laporta recalled Mr. Gates telling her the potential tax bill was too high and Mr. Manafort "didn't have that money".

Mr. Ayliff said if Pernova Holdings was controlled by Mr. Manafort the money would be counted as income and, therefore, taxable.