Thursday, August 16, 2018

Jury deliberations under way in fraud trial of Paul Manafort

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Jurors began their deliberations Thursday in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who prosecutors say earned $60 million advising Russia-backed politicians in Ukraine, hid much of it from the IRS and then lied to banks to get loans when the money dried up.

Manafort’s defense countered that he wasn’t culpable because he left the particulars of his finances to others.

The financial fraud trial calls on the dozen jurors to follow the complexities of foreign bank accounts and shell companies, loan regulations and tax rules. It exposed details about the lavish lifestyle of the onetime political insider, including a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich leather and $900,000 spent at a boutique retailer in New York paid via international wire transfer.

It’s the first courtroom test of the ongoing Russia probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller. While allegations of collusion are still being investigated, evidence of bank fraud and tax evasion unearthed during the probe has cast doubt on the integrity of Trump’s closest advisers during the campaign.

Peter Carr, spokesman for the special counsel’s office, declined to comment.

“When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort’s money, it is littered with lies,” prosecutor Greg Andres said in his final argument, asking the jury to convict Manafort of 18 felony counts.

In his defense, Manafort’s attorneys told jurors to question the entirety of the prosecution’s case as they sought to tarnish the credibility of Manafort’s longtime protege — and government witness — Rick Gates.

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