For the prosecution, Gates was the star witness, spending three days before the jury, telling them how he committed crimes alongside Manafort for years. Gates admitted to doctoring documents, falsifying information and creating fake loans to lower his former boss’s tax bill. He also admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars without Manafort’s knowledge by filing fake expense reports.
But the government’s case wasn’t all about Gates. Prosecutors spent two weeks presenting a meticulous, document-based case before the jury as they sought to prove Manafort used offshore bank accounts to conceal millions of dollars in proceeds from his Ukrainian political consulting from the IRS and later turned to defrauding banks.
Overall, prosecutors say Manafort avoided paying more than $16 million in taxes over several years.
They called carpenters, landscapers and clothiers to attest to how Manafort paid for his lavish lifestyle of expensive suits and elaborate properties through offshore wire transfers from shell companies in Cyprus and elsewhere. They also brought in bankers and accountants to tell jurors how when Manafort’s foreign consulting income dropped off, he turned to obtaining millions of dollars more in bank loans under false pretenses.
And perhaps most importantly, the government read from Manafort’s own emails as they laid out their case, including messages where he personally directed withdrawals from the offshore accounts he never reported on his tax returns.
Some of other emails admitted into evidence in the case revealed Manafort’s lobbying of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner on behalf of Stephen Calk, the chairman of Federal Savings Bank. Prosecutors say Calk approved $16 million in loans for Manafort — despite several red flags — because Calk wanted a job in the Trump administration.
The emails showed that in the weeks after the 2016 election, Manafort urged Kushner to consider Calk for Secretary of the Army, a position Calk had put at the top of his list in an earlier email to Manafort. Calk also listed seven other senior domestic appointments and 18 ambassadorships — ranked in order of preference — that he would accept.
Kushner respond to Manafort’s email by saying, “On it!” But Calk ultimately did not get an administration post.
The trial in Alexandria, Virginia, is the first of two for Manafort. He faces a trial later this year in the District of Columbia on charges of conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests. He is also accused of witness tampering in that case.