In describing the 18 counts facing Manafort, Asonye said that Manafort did not pay taxes on a large portion of the $60 million he earned working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, hid the income in a web of 30 overseas bank accounts, and lied to US banks to borrow millions of dollars against his real estate holdings once the money from Ukraine dried up.
The judge in Paul Manafort's financial fraud trial warned prosecutors Wednesday against using the word "oligarchs" to describe wealthy Ukrainians, and admonished them for spending so much time documenting the former Trump campaign chairman's extravagant lifestyle.
Chad Day and Eric Tucker, The Associated Press •.
Paul Manafort of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's staff listens during a round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of NY, U.S., August 17, 2016. That "secret income" was used to pay for personal expenses such as a $21,000 watch, a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich and more than $6 million worth of real estate paid for in cash, Asonye said.
"Not tax, not banking law", said Uzo Asonye, a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team looking at possible collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign in 2016.
The charges against Manafort were brought as result of information Mueller's team unearthed in its probe of Russian election tampering and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Mueller was not present in the courtroom. "It's a lot, and Paul Manafort trusted that Rick Gates was keeping track of it", Zehnle said.
Manafort's attorney Thomas Zehnle painted a drastically different portrait of Manafort, calling him a successful political consultant of 40 years who left the day-to-day operations of his company to his former associate Rick Gates, who betrayed him.
Manafort was indicted along with Gates in Mueller's wide-ranging investigation, but he is the only American charged to opt for a trial instead of cooperating with the government.
"Money's coming in fast". "That's what Rick Gates was being paid to do". Their roles were expected to feature more prominently in the Washington trial later this autumn.
Witnesses for the prosecution testified that Manafort bought expensive clothing, cars and home renovations, all with money that prosecutors say was earned and hidden overseas. The added evidence also appears to include documents related to bank accounts in Cyprus.
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It contained an imprint of his company's logo but billed for architectural services and listed as the client a company called Global Endeavor, which court records say is tied to Manafort. It was when the judge suggested that Gates might testify about that evidence that the prosecution broke the news that Gates might not take the stand.
"By the standard of a bootlegging mob boss whose outfit was responsible for multiple murders, you could argue that Capone got off pretty easy", said Jonathan Eig, the author of "Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster".
Prosecutors made no reference to Trump in their opening statement nor discussed in any way Manafort's leadership of the Trump campaign, or the ongoing investigation into potential collusion between Russian Federation and the president's associates. The president has repeatedly sought to discredit Mueller's investigation, which he calls a witch hunt.
"There was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!"
The trial is expected to last about three weeks.
Attorneys on both sides were also told by the judge to "reign in their facial expressions". A jury of six men and six women was ultimately selected, along with four alternate jurors.
Manafort has a second trial scheduled for September in the District of Columbia.
Mueller, appointed in May 2017 to his current post, has been running a wide-ranging inquiry that has charged 32 people, including 26 Russians, and others in Trump's campaign orbit.
Weissmann previously prosecuted several high-profile federal cases, including one against the Arthur Andersen accounting firm that was overturned by the Supreme Court 9-0.