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13 August 2018, 05:38 | Darnell Patrick
A courtroom sketch depicts Rick Gates on the witness stand testifying at Paul Manafort’s trial Tuesday
The federal judge overseeing the financial fraud trial of Paul Manafort is expressing contrition a day after angrily confronting prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller in front of the jury.
But it was Gates' testimony that has so far generated the most drama, as the witness admitted embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his boss, confessed to an extramarital affair and turned in spectacular fashion against a longtime mentor.
Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing got in a final shot, raising the possibility Gates had not one, but four extramarital affairs. Manafort made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians before he took an unpaid position with the Trump campaign that lasted five months.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has limited references to Manafort's relationship with Trump, but Friday's testimony offered the most substantial information yet to the jury about Manafort's association with Trump.
That associate, business partner Rick Gates, testified earlier that Manafort had asked him to write a letter affirming the account even though Gates said he had no role in the purchase.
Andres responded, "I think my soul is in pretty good shape after this process", prompting laughter in the gallery.
Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.
When the questioning of Gates ended around 11 a.m. Wednesday, he was dismissed from court. Defence lawyers have made blaming Gates, Manafort's right-hand man for a decade, a key plank of their defence.
During and after Gates' testimony, Ellis continued to spar with prosecutors, a daily occurrence during the trial. Ellis has repeatedly pressed prosecutors to accelerate their case, and he said the chart would only slow things.
"It was highly inappropriate to raise the other affairs, and the judge's response was very generous", said Gene Rossi, a former prosecutor who has been watching the trial.
"Judges should be patient".
Ellis had erupted on the prosecutors during the testimony of IRS agent Michael Welch, saying he hadn't authorized Welch to watch the trial.
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Prosecutors had told Ellis he had approved having Welch and other expert witnesses attend the proceedings, a point they repeated in a court filing on Thursday asking for a "curative instruction" to the jury to set the record straight. Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye then revealed that Welch had been seated in the courtroom for the duration of the proceedings.
She says in another instance, Manafort maintained that there were no mortgages on a separate NY property when there actually were.
"I want you to remember, don't do that again".
"It appears I may well have been wrong", Ellis said as the trial went into its eighth day. When Asonye pointed out that the judge had previously said the expert could stay in the courtroom, the judge snapped: "I don't care what the transcript said; maybe I made a mistake".
Overall, the accountant traced more than $65 million flowing into offshore accounts controlled by Manafort, and she detailed for jurors how more than $15.5 million flowed out to fund his lavish lifestyle between 2010 and 2014.
Even under that conservative analysis, he said, Manafort did not report millions of dollars in offshore income.
Following Gates' testimony, an Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic accountant, Morgan Magionos, told jurors bank records from Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United Kingdom revealed the accounts were connected to Manafort and his associates. They kept those accounts in Cyprus until about 2013, when a banking crisis on that island led them to move their money to accounts in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Following Gates' testimony, prosecutors resumed trying to make their case for financial fraud by Manafort through documentary evidence to demonstrate his control of offshore bank accounts containing millions of dollars not reported to the IRS as required by US law.
She said Manafort's passport was used to open numerous accounts in US dollars, euros and British pounds.
She says Manafort had told the bank that one of the properties would be used as a second residence, but she found it listed as a rental on a real estate website.
Konstantin Kilimnik, a man prosecutors say has ties to Russian intelligence, was also among the beneficial owners of some of the companies.
Prosecutors now say they will wrap up their case against Manafort on Monday.
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