Bookkeeper Testifies in Court Manafort Was Broke in 2016

Susan Walsh  AP

Susan Walsh AP

His plea documents count at least five specific falsehoods he told authorities: that he was told by Manafort that a meeting about Ukraine was not about Ukraine; that he did not lobby US officials about Ukraine; that he did not recall lobbying meetings about Ukraine; that he had served merely as "a means of introduction" for others to talk to USA officials about Ukraine; that their firm did not retain emails longer than 30 days.

With a mound of evidence showing bank fraud and tax evasion, Manafort's defense attorneys have decided not to fight the evidence and instead pin the crimes on former Manafort associate Rick Gates.

The former Justice Department attorney who spoke to Roll Call expects the prosecution to call a summary witness - a federal agent who gathered facts during the case's investigation phase - toward the trial's conclusion to testify about evidence that shows Manafort opened more than 30 accounts in four different countries under his name, including shell companies that sent Manafort and Gates the money that they classified as "loans". Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Gates is expected to testify this week. "But then they were longtime clients of the firm and I did not want to do that either".

In some ways, Laporta's testimony mirrored that given by Philip Ayliff and Heather Washkuhn - Manafort's former CPA and bookkeeper, respectively.

Ellis indicated he believes the prosecution has demonstrated Manafort had control of foreign bank accounts despite checking a box on tax returns saying he didn't. His longtime cash cow, the Ukrainian president Viktor F. Yanukovych, was out of office, living in exile. A day later, Laporta said, she e-mailed Gates to ask if the loan money had been wired in 2014 to reflect the transaction listed on the return. Prosecutors say the bank provided Manafort with $16 million in loans after he submitted false data on loan applications.

"You make her say "I lied" as many times as you can", Axelrod said.

Washkuhn, the trial's 12th witness, was the first to offer an inside look at how Manafort dealt with the people who kept his books. It's unclear which loan specifically was altered.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis asked the accountant, Cynthia Laporta, whether she was testifying under an immunity agreement with the government because she was concerned that she could be prosecuted.

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. Peranova is one of the numerous Cypriot entities that prosecutors have said Manafort controlled.

Given the impact of Laporta's testimony, it is now unlikely the prosecution will call O'Brien to the stand, according to a person close to the case.

The document had Manafort's signature. When prosecutors asked her why she went along with what she knew to be wrong, she said because she "had two options".

"Was this the last time that DMP International claimed that funds received from Telmar were loans?"

"I very much regret it", Laporta said on the trial's fourth day as prosecutors build their case that Manafort hid tens of millions of dollars he earned working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine to evade taxes.

In other words, Laporta said, Manafort's comments to the bank about how the property was being used were "inconsistent" with what was on his tax return. In his answer, Manafort said he had "NONE".

Washkuhn said her company had calculated net income of about $400,000 for Manafort's consulting company for that year. He also allegedly failed to declare he had stashed some of his income in foreign bank accounts; failing to declare those foreign accounts to USA authorities is a crime.

Prosecutors have accused Manafort of hiding millions of dollars from the IRS and lying to get bank loans.

On Oct. 21, 2016, Manafort emailed Dennis Raico, an official at Federal Savings, with a profit-and-loss statement that showed his firm had net income of $3,011,952 through the end of September, Washkuhn said.

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