The star prosecution witness in the financial fraud trial of Paul Manafort testified Monday that he concealed millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts on Manafort's behalf and falsified documents to help his former boss obtain millions of dollars more in bank loans. Rick Gates also admitted he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the former Trump campaign chairman. Gates calmly related his criminal conduct as prosecutors looked to provide jurors with damning testimony from a co-conspirator they say carried out an elaborate offshore tax-evasion and fraud scheme on behalf of Manafort, the AP reports.
Gates said that when millions of dollars came in from Manafort's Ukrainian consulting work, Manafort would decide whether to classify it as income or a loan. He said the goal of the fraud was to lower Manafort's tax bill and allow him to defer payment on the income until later years. Gates is testifying as part of a plea deal with the government. Manafort's defense has sought to blame Gates for any illegal conduct, calling him a liar and embezzler. Gates and Manafort worked closely together for years and were the first two people indicted by Robert Mueller's grand jury. Gates is expected to continue his testimony Tuesday. (The judge has told prosecutors not to use the words "Trump" or "oligarchs.")