The Latest: Tax preparer testifies in Manafort trial
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort (all times local):
One of Paul Manafort’s tax preparers says she helped disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan in order to reduce the former Trump campaign chairman’s tax burden.
Tax preparer Cindy Laporta says she agreed under pressure from Manafort’s longtime deputy Rick Gates to alter a tax document for one of Manafort’s businesses to show the $900,000 loan.
Laporta’s testimony came in the fourth day of Manafort’s trial on tax evasion and bank fraud charges, as prosecutors are focusing on the heart of their case.
Jurors have heard testimony that Manafort inflated his income by millions of dollars and concealed foreign bank accounts he was using to buy luxury items. The defense has sought to blame Gates for any illegal activity.
Laporta was granted immunity to testify.
Prosecutors are heading toward the heart of their financial fraud case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Jurors have now heard testimony that he never told his tax accountants about offshore bank accounts containing millions of dollars.
Prosecutors are trying to rebut defense arguments that Manafort can’t be responsible for financial fraud because he left the details of his spending to others.
Manafort is on trial for alleged bank fraud and tax evasion, charges that could put him in prison for the rest of his life.
Paul Manafort told tax preparers on multiple occasions that he didn’t control any foreign bank accounts.
That’s what his longtime accountant says during testimony in the former Trump campaign chairman’s trial on tax evasion and bank fraud charges.
Accountant Philip Ayliff says Manafort’s tax returns didn’t list the foreign accounts because Manafort and his longtime deputy, Rick Gates, told him there weren’t any to report.
Manafort’s lawyers have sought to blame Gates for any illegal conduct.
Ayliff says he sometimes communicated with Gates about Manafort’s personal and business tax returns. But he says Manafort authorized those discussions, and the two never contradicted each other.
Gates is expected to testify later in the case. He cut a plea deal earlier this year.
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.
In a court filing Friday, prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team say Manafort’s lawyers want to point to the absence of an audit to suggest that the government “lacks sufficient evidence of a crime or rushed to proceed criminally when it should have proceeded civilly.”
A defense lawyer for Manafort encouraged jurors in his opening statement to consider whether prosecutors had enough evidence to begin an audit of Manafort.
Prosecutors say that argument could cause confusion with the jury and raises questions of relevance.
The prosecutors say that line of inquiry would only be appropriate, if at all, if Manafort were to take the stand.
Prosecutors are giving more insight into how they built their case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Attorneys for special counsel Robert Mueller’s team say in a court filing that an FBI forensic accountant reviewed “tens of thousands” of documents from 20 financial institutions and 35 companies to support the tax evasion and bank fraud charges against Manafort.
They say that hidden among those records were more than 200 wire transfers from more than 30 companies Manafort controlled. Among those were seven transfers the government says were sham “loans” Manafort used to disguise millions in income from the IRS.
Prosecutors laid out the details of their work in asking a judge to let them use charts to summarize the complex financial case in the fourth day of Manafort’s trial.
Prosecutors are heading toward the heart of their financial fraud case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Jurors are expected to hear testimony Friday that Manafort never told his tax accountants about offshore bank accounts containing millions of dollars.
The testimony of longtime accountant Philip Ayliff would build on evidence presented by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team that Manafort inflated his business income by millions of dollars and kept his bookkeeper in the dark about the foreign bank accounts he was using to buy luxury items and pay personal expenses.
Bookkeeper Heather Washkuhn testified Thursday that Manafort approved “every penny” of the personal bills she paid for him and was very knowledgeable about his finances. But he never told her that millions in foreign wire transfers were coming from companies prosecutors say he controlled.