Manafort hid millions in foreign accounts, USA prosecutor says

Manafort hid millions in foreign accounts, USA prosecutor says

"This case is about taxes and trust", defence attorney Thomas Zehnle told jurors.

"A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him - not tax law, not banking law", Mr Asonye said of Mr Manafort as he sketched out the evidence gathered by special counsel Robert Mueller's team. "Not tax, not banking law".

Judge Ellis was not messing around. Four alternate jurors were also chosen.

Manafort arrived at the courthouse Tuesday morning wearing a black suit, with his hair neatly parted.

Defence attorney Zehnle asked Manafort to stand up and face the jury, calling him "a good man" and a talented political consultant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye told the jury that Manafort considered himself above the law as he funneled tens of millions of dollars through offshore accounts to pay for personal expenses such as a $21,000 watch and a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich. Maximillian Katzman, of New York's elite custom clothier Alan Couture, said Manafort was one of his top customers and, unlike any other customer, paid with global wire transfers.

US taxpayers are audited rather than "punished" for the "mistakes" they make on their tax returns, he said, adding that Manafort and his company were not audited by the IRS prior to the special counsel's investigation. He especially trusted business associate Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty in Mueller's investigation and is now the government's star witness.

Giuliani: It's time for Mueller to put up or shut up
He said about ten of them feature Cohen and reporters, while another one is a tape of Trump, Cohen and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. A successful conviction would give momentum to Mueller since the probe began 14 months ago.

He gave the order before the jury entered the courtroom for day 2 of Manafort's trial on tax and bank fraud charges brought by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his probe into suspected collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation during the 2016 presidential election.

None of the 18 counts against Manafort deal with collusion or conspiracy with a foreign nation, and the word Russian Federation has not been mentioned through the trial's first two days.

The luxurious lifestyle was funded by Manafort's political consulting for the pro-Russian Ukrainian political party of Viktor Yanukovych, who was deposed as Ukraine's president in 2014.

US District Judge T.S. Ellis said he plans to rule on whether that Ukraine-related evidence can be included after the jury is selected, a process that started today.

Manafort spent more than $100,000 at the store in 2010, and more than $444,000 in 2013, according to Katzman. Jury selection begins Tuesday. But it ultimately said this wasn't enough to look past Manafort's conduct and set him free from jail. He said Manafort "worked for me for a very short time". He has also put distance between himself and Mr Manafort's charges, saying in a tweet: "This is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign". Mueller's original mandate was to investigate not only potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, but also any other crimes arising from the probe. Failure to obtain a conviction for Manafort would give Trump and his allies more ammunition in their continued attacks on the probe. An acquittal would support efforts by Trump and his allies to portray the probe as a "witch hunt". The alleged crimes occurred before Manafort's time on the Trump campaign.

Mr. Asonye attempted to backtrack, telling Judge Ellis that the evidence presented will determine if Mr. Gates' testifies.

Following this trial, Manafort will face a second trial in Washington in September with more explosive charges, including conspiracy against the United States, failure to register as a foreign agent, money laundering, lying to federal investigators and obstruction of justice.

Related Articles