Rick Gates on Monday took the stand in the federal fraud case against his former business partner, ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, testifying that he committed crimes while working for Manafort.
On day five of the trial in Alexandria, Virginia, Gates was asked by the prosecutor whether he had committed any crimes with Mr Manafort, and he said: "Yes". Gates said that, at the direction of his boss, he helped Manafort falsify his tax returns, failed to report 15 foreign bank accounts, and did not register Manafort as a foreign agent, as is required by law.
The jury has heard how Manafort made tens of millions of dollars for political work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.
Manafort is on trial in Virginia for various financial crimes he was charged with as part of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE's ongoing investigation.
The warning came after multiple reporters rushed out of the courtroom at the same time Monday after it was announced that Gates would testify Monday.
Ahead of Manafort's trial, Mueller's prosecutors listed Gates as a potential witness, indicating that he was expected to play a central role in the prosecutor's case against his former boss.
Paul Manafort conspired to hide millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the IRS and directed his longtime deputy to lie to bookkeepers, banks and accountants to conceal the scheme.
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Rick Gates has been regarded as a crucial government witness ever since he pleaded guilty previous year and agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. One came after a September 15, 2015, conference call in which Gates balked at the amount of taxes that Manafort's political consulting firm owed for 2014. Laporta, who testified under an immunity deal with the government, acknowledged that she agreed under pressure from Gates to alter a tax document for one of Manafort's businesses.
Manafort's attorneys have sought to blame Gates for the financial crimes, in addition to embezzling money from Manafort.
Similar to prior witnesses, Ms Laporta testified Mr Gates and Mr Manafort were in lockstep but that Mr Manafort was in charge.
On Friday, a tax preparer named Cindy Laporta admitted that she helped disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan in order to reduce Manafort's tax burden.
Gates also said he lied in a lawsuit deposition years ago, after Manafort "asked me not to include" certain things in the deposition.
The Manafort trial marks the first major court test for the Mueller investigation.
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