The Wall Street Journal: Manafort trial: Accountant testifies she falsified tax return at Gates request

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An accountant for Paul Manafort told jurors Friday she believed his tax returns contained inaccurate information and falsely reduced his tax liability by classifying millions of dollars she believed was income as loans.

The accountant, Cindy Laporta, said manipulating tax returns in such a way was “inappropriate” and that she knew it was wrong, but did it because Manafort was a longtime client of her firm. “I prepared the tax returns and communicated with banks based on information that [Richard] Gates and Manafort provided to me that I didn’t believe,” said Laporta, who testified under immunity.

Laporta, who worked for Manafort’s longtime accounting firm, KWC, was the first of five immunized witnesses scheduled to take the stand in the trial of the former Trump campaign chairman on charges that he lied on his taxes, didn’t disclose holding overseas bank accounts, and participated in bank fraud.

Manafort, a political consultant, has pleaded not guilty and rejected all the charges. His lawyers argue that special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which brought the prosecution, is exceeding its authority.

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The testimony came on the fourth day of a trial that is moving faster than lawyers on both sides expected, with prosecutors using multiple witnesses so far to lay out a case that Manafort kept secretive overseas bank accounts to avoid taxes. Prosecutors expect to wrap up their case next week, including testimony from Gates, Manafort’s longtime associate. And then Manafort’s defense will take over.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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