Star witness Rick Gates testifies against former boss Paul Manafort

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Rick Gates, the key prosecution witness in the tax and fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, testified Monday he had committed crimes alongside and at the direction of his former partner - and had also stolen from Manafort himself.

Experts have billed Gates as the star witness in the tax evasion and bank fraud trial that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is prosecuting against Manafort who is facing 18 counts of tax evasion.

Rick Gates, a former campaign official for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs U.S. District Court after he and Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort attended a hearing in the first charges stemming from a special counsel investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2017.

Rick Gates testified today that he committed crimes while working with Paul Manafort.

Ms Laporta detailed multiple examples in which Mr Manafort and Mr Gates sought to doctor financial records, first in order to lower Mr Manafort's taxable income and then later to inflate his income so he could get bank loans.

In addition to assisting in Manafort's alleged crimes, Gates told the jury he had failed to report his own income routed through bank accounts in the United Kingdom and stole several hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing false and inflated expense reports related to their work in Ukraine.

Similar to prior witnesses, Ms Laporta testified Mr Gates and Mr Manafort were in lockstep but that Mr Manafort was in charge. Gates also worked for the Trump election campaign. He said he assisted Manafort with a number of loans Manafort was seeking, and that he provided fraudulent and altered documents to support those loans.

The witness also testified that he had helped the defendant file false tax returns, and had concealed 15 foreign accounts from the USA government.

The jury has heard how Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

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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.

Gates also said he lied in a lawsuit deposition years ago, after Manafort "asked me not to include" certain things in the deposition.

Manafort's defense has sought to blame Gates for any illegal conduct and accused him of embezzling millions of dollars.

The criminal case has nothing to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign and there's been no discussion during the trial about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian Federation - the central question Mueller's team has tried to answer.

In questioning Laporta on Monday, a prosecutor asked the accountant about a $10 million (£7.72 million) loan purportedly received by Manafort from Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska in 2006.

But she said she was under the impression that Mr Manafort had been directing his deputies' actions and "knew what was going on".

Gates testified that he and Manafort had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the USA government, and knew that was illegal.

The jury had heard testimony on Friday and Monday from accountant Cynthia Laporta, who described how Manafort and Gates doctored financial statements and backdated loans.

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