Rick Gates admits to committing crimes with Paul Manafort

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Rick Gates dropped a bombshell in his testimony against his former business partner, Paul Manafort, in federal court Monday. Whilst the charges against Manafort do not directly relate to Trump's presidential campaign, or any potential collusion, both Gates and Manafort were indicted as a direct outcome of Mueller's investigation.

Rick Gates, described by witnesses as Manafort's "right-hand man", 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 his former boss. They also failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent, Gates said.

Gates laid responsibility squarely at Manafort's feet, bolstering the prosecution's case that Manafort was in full control of his finances and directing Gates' actions.

"At Mr. Manafort's request we did not disclose foreign bank accounts", Gates told the jury in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, describing their relationship of two decades as limited to business.

Gates admitted on Monday that he did steal money through inflated expense reports, but he said it was hundreds of thousands of dollars, not millions as defense lawyers stated.

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Gates said that he did all of those crimes "at the direction of Mr. Manafort", CNN reported.

Finally, before the court recessed for lunch, Gates said that he helped Manafort convert a $1.5 million 2012 loan from Peranova Holdings into income while applying for a loan in 2016.

Manafort served as chairman of Trump's presidential campaign during the summer of 2016, and was forced out in August of that year amid news stories about his ties to then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether any Trump aides colluded with an alleged Moscow plot to help elect him as USA president, and whether there was any obstruction of justice.

When Andres tried to elicit testimony about the oligarchs' backgrounds and why they paid Manafort millions of dollars for his political advice, Ellis urged Andres to "go to the heart of the matter".

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Gates is the prosecution's star witness after he cut a plea deal this year and admitted two felony charges.

Testimony from Mr Manafort's tax preparer continued on Monday. In questioning Laporta on Monday, a prosecutor asked the accountant about a $10 million loan purportedly received by Manafort from Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska in 2006. Laporta testified that she saw no evidence that the loan was ever repaid.

Some of the manoeuvrers were at the request of Mr Gates, while others implicated Mr Manafort, Ms Laporta testified.

Since the trial started before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis last Tuesday, Manafort's lawyers have kept their cross-examinations brief and at times refrained from attempting to rebut damaging testimony in detail. Gates said he spoke to LaPorta about listing the property as a residence. One accounting trick saved Manafort $500,000 in taxes, she said.

But Mr Manafort is not charged with helping the Kremlin.

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After that, Gates sent her a document dated March 6, 2014, that purported to represent a $900,000 loan from a Cyprus entity, Telmar Limited, to Manafort's company.

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