Rick Gates, the former business partner of Paul Manafort and key prosecution witness in his tax and fraud trial, testified Monday that he had committed crimes alongside and at the direction of the former Trump campaign chairman.
Gates also admitted he had stolen from Manafort himself. In what was a shocking testimony, Gates said he and Manafort had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the federal government even though they knew it was illegal.
CNN reports that Gates also stated that by submitting false expense reports that were paid out of some of the undisclosed foreign bank accounts in Cyprus, he cheated his business partner out of “several hundred thousand” dollars.
Earlier this year, Gates, who is a former adviser to President Donald Trump, reached a plea deal with the special counsel to receive a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony against Manafort. He offered evidence against his former partner and described their work in Ukraine for former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, whose supporters transferred money to Manafort from their accounts in Cyprus.
“I was the one who helped organize the paperwork and initiate the wire transfers,” Gates testified.
The former campaign manager is accused of financing a lavish lifestyle by using millions of dollars in profits that he hid from tax authorities and bank fraud, counts on which he has pleaded not guilty.
Gates is now likely to face cross-examination from the defense in the case following his revelation that he embezzled money from Manafort before turning the tables on him under pressure from special counsel Robert Mueller. He further admitted to committing other criminal offenses, including lying to his own tax accountant and lying in a lawsuit deposition a few years ago at the request of Manafort himself.
Bookkeepers who worked for Manafort also testified on Monday. Paula Liss, a senior special agent with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, said Manafort and his wife didn’t file paperwork declaring a financial interest or control over a foreign bank account between 2011 and 2014.