You will be surprised that there does not appear to be an innocent explanation for Paul Manafort’s ability to keep himself in many units of luxury housing and seven figures worth of hideously ugly items of clothing, even when he had no income:
One of Paul Manafort’s accountants testified Friday that she went along with falsifying his tax records because she was afraid to confront a longtime client.
Cindy Laporta said that in 2015, Manafort’s right-hand man, Rick Gates, told her his boss couldn’t afford to pay his taxes. To ease that burden, she said, Gates instructed her to misrepresent $900,000 in income as a business loan.
“I had a couple of choices at that point,” Laporta said. “I could have refused to file the tax return,” which she said could lead to litigation with Manafort’s firm.
“I could have called Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates liars,” she said. “But Mr. Manafort was a longtime client of the firm and I did not want to do that, either.”
Laporta, who testified after she was granted immunity, said “I very much regret” the decision to go along with a plan that she estimated saved Manafort at least $400,000 in taxes.
During recent years, Manafort reported making healthy incomes — $504,744 in 2010; $3,071,409 in 2011; $5,361,007 in 2012; $1,910,928 in 2013; $2,984,210 in 2014. But prosecutors say he was making millions more from his work in Ukraine, stashing it in foreign bank accounts and using it to buy luxuries such as a now infamous $15,000 ostrich-leather bomber jacket.
Asonye flashed the tax returns, one by one, in front of the jurors, asking Ayliff in relation to each: How many foreign bank accounts did Manafort report having?
“None,” Ayliff said, as the exercise was repeated five times.
The prosecution turned to emails to show Manafort’s failure to report the bank accounts was no mere mistake. One 2011 email showed Ayliff asking Manafort whether he had any interest in a foreign bank account. Manafort responded that he did not. Ayliff testified that his firm relied on the representations of Gates and Manafort, and that the men never told him of the foreign accounts.
This Times piece provides a lot of good detail about why Manafort saw Trump as his means of getting out of the debts he had somehow accumulated despite being paid tens of millions of dollars by oligarchs for his services. But the punchline is sobering:
Prosecutors, who had scrutinized Mr. Manafort’s foreign lobbying for years, began investigating that area in earnest. By the time Mr. Trump was sworn into office, Mr. Manafort was under scrutiny in at least two investigations. If convicted of the charges against him, he faces years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.
Mr. Manafort’s lawyers say he almost certainly would not have faced charges if not for his brief, unpaid stint with the Trump campaign.
One thing the Trump administration has revealed is that the amount of white collar crime that goes unprosecuted in this country is pretty clearly staggering.