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Rick Gates admits to committing crimes with Paul Manafort

Rick Gates admits to committing crimes with Paul Manafort

As Gates testified in a calm, dispassionate way about the crimes he says he and Manafort committed together (as well as crimes he says Manafort didn't know about, including embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from him), Manafort appeared to be looking directly at his former colleague.

Rick Gates told jurors that he siphoned off the money without Manafort's knowledge by filing false expense reports.

A lawyer in Cyprus nicknamed "Dr. K", for whom Manafort did some political consulting work, helped them set up the accounts, Gates said. He noted that, as is common with cooperating witnesses, Gates testified to a wide array of crimes - including some that the government hadn't known about prior to his cooperation - and even minor violations, like showing up for parole 15 minutes lates.

Gates also testified that both he and Manafort had control over the foreign accounts, as well as Manafort's business associate Konstantin Kilimnik. Gates pleaded guilty to financial fraud and to lying to investigators as he negotiated the plea agreement earlier this year.

Gates said he conspired with Manafort to falsify tax returns, knowingly failed to report foreign bank accounts and failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent.

The government's star witness took the stand Monday in the bank fraud and tax evasion trial of Paul Manafort, the onetime chairman of the Trump presidential campaign.

This was the testimony that close watchers of Manafort's troubles have been waiting for since Gates flipped in February.

The jury has heard how Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

"When income came into the company, Mr. Manafort directed whether it would be treated as income.or loans", Gates said.

One accounting trick saved Mr Manafort $US500,000 ($676,907) in taxes, she said.

Some of the manoeuvrers were at the request of Mr Gates, while others implicated Mr Manafort, Ms Laporta testified. His case is the first to go to trial arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

Manafort, a flamboyant figure in Washington for decades, became known for his consulting and lobbying work for ethically questionable global leaders like Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych.

The prosecution's witness list still has 19 names of those who've yet to appear in court.

Paul Manafort's attorney says the former Trump campaign chairman's longtime deputy will be testifying next in Manafort's fraud trial.

The trial opened last week with a display of Manafort's opulent lifestyle, then progressed into testimony about what prosecutors say were years of financial deception.

The prosecution didn't confirm that Gates, a prosecution witness, would be next.

Downing also accused Gates of embezzling "millions", a higher amount than Gates later admitted to in his testimony. Laporta, who testified under an immunity deal with the government, acknowledged that she agreed under pressure from Gates to alter a tax document for one of Manafort's businesses.

The jury heard testimony on Friday and Monday from accountant Cynthia Laporta, who described how Manafort and Gates doctored financial statements and backdated loans.

Under cross examination, she said at the time she believed Manafort was directing Gates' actions and "knew what was going on". When Robert Mueller began investigating Russian interference a year ago, Manafort's questionable lobbying work - the sort of activity that has historically rarely been investigated in Washington - was put under a microscope, exposing him and his associates.