Manafort's right-hand man testifies against him

Rick Gates the star witness in the case against Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

Rick Gates, Manafort's former partner in crime (literally, it turns out), took the stand to detail the many shady sides of the global lobbying business he helped the ex-superlobbyist run for years.

Mr Gates, whose testimony in the federal court trial of Mr Manafort - his longtime business partner - in Alexandria, Virginia, was continuing, was expected to be a star witness in the Government's case, having pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors under a deal that could lead to a reduced sentence.

On the witness stand Monday, Gates spoke about how he broke the law with Manafort, including by providing false and doctored documents to banks in an effort to inflate Manafort's income to qualify him for loans.

Manafort's attorneys have signaled they will seek to blame Gates and have accused him of embezzling millions of dollars from Manafort. They were the first two people indicted by Mueller's grand jury.

Rick Gates has been regarded as a crucial witness for the government ever since he pleaded guilty this year to two felony charges and agreed to cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

Gates, Manafort's long-time business partner, is expected to face a tough cross-examination later on Tuesday by defense lawyers in the first trial to arise from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 USA election.

The testimony came after Gates pleaded guilty in February and signed a plea deal to testify against Manafort, his former partner at an global political consulting firm.

He has also told jurors that he and Manafort knew they were committing crimes for years as part of the offshore payment structure. Gates studiously avoided Manafort's gaze and looked only at Andres, the judge or the jury.

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"A lot of these loan agreements are backdated", Gates said.

Manafort has a second trial scheduled for September involving allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the United States government. The charges largely predate his five months on the Trump campaign.

When one of the defense lawyers tried to suggest to Manafort's tax accountant Monday that Gates had kept Manafort in the dark about his own finances, the accountant, Cynthia Laporta, pushed back.

Gates testified that he and Manafort had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the US government, and knew that was illegal.

In just a little over an hour of questioning, Gates told the prosecution that Manafort directed him to open up accounts in Cyprus so that the Ukrainian politicians who paid Manafort's DMP International consulting firm for its campaign work could funnel millions of dollars to him.

Testimony from Mr Manafort's tax preparer continued on Monday.

He said that some of Manafort's income was disguised as loans from 15 shell companies that Manafort controlled, majority in Cyprus. And Trump has shown interest in the proceedings, tweeting support for Manafort.

Laporta thought that was odd, so she asked Gates for information about the $2.4 million Manafort was supposedly owed. Manafort instructed his bookkeeper to classify it as a loan for tax purposes, though Gates admitted in court that it was not one and Manafort had never received a loan from Lyovochkin.

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