Accountant testifies about problems with Trump ex-aide Manafort's taxes

Leroy Wright
August 6, 2018

When prosecutor Greg Andres read off some of the offshore companies to Manafort's bookkeeper, she said Manafort never told her about them.

Asked by prosecutors why she did so, Laporta said she was trying to protect her firm, KWC. He wanted to send it to Federal Savings Bank, LaPorta said.

During Ayliff's lengthy testimony, Manafort sat a few feet away at the defense table where he appeared to be closely tracking the government's exhibits, many of them copies of his own tax returns and ledger sheets.

When prosecutors asked if information of potential foreign accounts would be important to know, Laporta said that it would.

"In other words, Mueller could have indicted the leading edge, perhaps to convince Manafort to cooperate with him down the road", she said. "But then they were longtime clients of the firm and I did not want to do that either".

During one series of questions, prosecutors asked Laporta about loans from two distinct entities, Telmar and Paranova. Manafort was aware of the reported loan, which served to reduce his income, she said.

LaPorta testified that she initially agreed to prepare the profit and loss statement but declined to do so when she never received documents supporting Manafort's claim that he would be paid in November 2016.

"You can't pick and choose what's a loan and what's income", she said.

The accounting of suit costs aggravated U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis, who has admonished prosecutors not to belabor the details of Manafort's lavish lifestyle but to stick strictly instead to the evidence that supports the charges. Ellis said it's frequently understood as a pejorative term and could bias jurors (who weren't present for his instructions).

"You could tell he had a visceral reaction to that", said Patrick Grasso, a retired civil servant from Alexandria.

"Nobody intending to violate the law would leave the evidence around for his accountant to find it", Manfort's lead attorney Kevin Downing said in the courtroom Friday.

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Most of the email evidence introduced Friday implicated Gates more directly than Manafort in a scheme to convert income into loans.

The jury also heard from several money managers contracted to keep tabs on Manafort's cash flow.

Emails submitted by the prosecution showed that Gates told LaPorta he would provide a letter on the loan forgiveness and then "chase down signatures".

Trump has somewhat distanced himself from Manafort in the past months, tweeting that his former top campaign official worked for him "only for a very short time" and asking why the government didn't tell the Trump campaign that Manafort was under investigation.

Also expected to testify at some point was Rick Gates, Manafort's longtime deputy.

It was one of several times that Laporta testified that she accepted questionable financial statements pressed on her by Gates or Manafort, including some involving other loans prosecutors say were shams to hide income.

Prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, spent much of the week on Manafort's flush years, when a highly lucrative contract to promote pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine from 2010 to 2014 financed a life of opulence for the veteran political consultant.

Trump has proven he's willing to pardon people he feels have been loyal to him and use his pardon powers to make political points - and he's also railed against special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, which led to the charges against Manafort.

That's according to the former Trump campaign chairman's bookkeeper who is testifying in his financial fraud trial.

Washkuhn also detailed how after Manafort's political consulting money from Ukraine stopped coming in, around 2015, he and his company began piling up debt and financial woes. He testified that Manafort spent more than $330,000 there over a three-year period, all of it paid for by worldwide wire transfers from foreign bank accounts.

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