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Manafort’s financial situation examined

The financial records of former Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort have come under the spotlight.US prosecutors have aggressively pressed their bank and tax fraud case against Paul Manafort presenting testimony they say proves Donald Trump’s former election campaign chairman deceived his lead bookkeeper and a bank about his finances.
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On the trial’s third day on Thursday, the prosecution pivoted away from describing Manafort’s lavish lifestyle and instead focused on the nitty-gritty details of actions they believe underpin the charges against him of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to report foreign bank accounts.

Prosecutors have attempted to portray Manafort as a tax cheat and a liar who hid much of the $US60 million he earned from political work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine by stashing it in undisclosed overseas accounts.

Manafort, 69, is facing 18 charges in the first trial stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 US presidential election. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all the charges in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington.

Manafort’s client in Ukraine, former President Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions, were forced out of power in 2014 and Yanukovych lives in exile in Russia.

Manafort’s lead bookkeeper Heather Washkuhn, who managed the books of his personal and business finances, testified on Thursday that by November 2016, Manafort’s firm was facing a loss of more than $US1 million, which grew to $US1.9 million the following month.

Manafort was having difficulty paying his bills, including the bills due to her firm, said Washkuhn, managing director of the accounting firm Nigro Karlin Segal Feldstein & Bolno.

“I know I had asked multiple times for bills to be paid,” she said.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Manafort emailed a doctored profit-and-loss statement to a Chicago bank from which he was seeking a loan.

They showed jurors an email from Washkuhn to the bank showing that, through November 20, 2016, his business had a net loss of $US1,116,497. They then displayed another email they said Manafort sent to an executive at the bank with a profit-and-loss statement for September 2016 attached.

The document stated that Manafort’s consulting firm had a net income of $US3,011,952. Washkuhn said she did not produce that document.

The email from Manafort could potentially undercut his defence strategy. Since the trial started on Tuesday, his lawyers have sought to lay the blame for any financial irregularities on his former business partner Rick Gates and went so far as to accuse him of embezzling money from Manafort’s firm.

Defence lawyer Thomas Zehnle avoided asking about the questionable document when his turn came to question Washkuhn.

Greg Andres, a member of Mueller’s team, confirmed on Thursday that the prosecution will call Gates as a witness, a day after another prosecutor suggested they might not.

Gates has pleaded guilty to making false statements after being indicted and is cooperating with Mueller’s probe, which so far has led to the indictments or guilty pleas of 32 people and three companies.

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