Prosecutors make final arguments at Paul Manafort financial fraud trial

Paul Manafort lied to keep himself flush with cash and to maintain his luxurious lifestyle when his income dropped off, prosecutors told jurors Wednesday during closing arguments in the former Trump campaign chairman's financial fraud trial.
 
The government's case boils down to "Mr. Manafort and his lies," prosecutor Greg Andres said in court in Alexandria, Va.
 
"When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort's money, it is littered with lies," Andres said as he made his final pitch that the jury should weigh a trove of evidence presented over the past few weeks and find Manafort guilty of 18 felony counts.
 
Attorneys for Manafort, who is accused of tax evasion and bank fraud, will have their chance in front of jurors later in the day.

The defence rested its case Tuesday without calling Manafort to testify or requesting other witnesses.

The judge, T.S. Ellis III, rejected a bid by the defence to dismiss the 18 charges Manafort faces in Federal Court. The charges overall carry a maximum of 305 years in prison.

In a court ruling earlier this year, Ellis wrote Manafort "faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison."

Manafort, who spent several months as chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016, is accused of hiding at least $ 16 million US in income from the IRS between 2010 and 2014 by disguising the money he earned advising politicians in Ukraine as loans and hiding it in foreign banks.

Then, after his money in Ukraine dried up, he defrauded banks by lying about his income on loan applications and concealing other financial information, such as mortgages, it's alleged.

Also faces trial in D.C.

Manafort's legal team has blamed any wrongdoing on Rick Gates, the former Manafort protégé who testified he and his former boss committed crimes together for years. Defence lawyers have called Gates a liar, philanderer and embezzler as they've sought to undermine his testimony.

Gates said he helped Manafort, 69, commit crimes in an effort to lower his tax bill and fund his lavish lifestyle.

It was also alleged at trial that Manafort, in November 2016, passed on to Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the name of the chairman of Federal Savings Bank for consideration for a post in the administration. The bank had signed off on millions in loans for Manafort despite concerns from some officials about his credit and the source of his financing.

Manafort's lawyers argued there is no way the bank could have been defrauded because its chairman, Stephen Calk, knew that Manafort's finances were in disarray but approved the loan anyway.

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 and was elevated to campaign chair in May. He left the campaign in August that year, days after a New York Times report linking him to accounts with Ukrainians.

Manafort also faces a trial in September in the District of Columbia, where he is charged with conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against the United States, making false statements, and charges in connection with failing to register as a foreign agent even though he lobbied in the U.S. on behalf of the pro-Kremlin Ukrainian government of former president Viktor Yanukovych.

Trump, who has repeatedly denied colluding with Russia, has tried to downplay Manafort's influence on his campaign, although he has said on more than one occasion he thinks the longtime Republican operative has been treated unfairly by authorities.

Russia has denied being involved in efforts to disrupt U.S. elections, although at a joint news conference with Trump last month in Helsinki, President Vladmir Putin did admit he wanted the Republican to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Manafort had been under house arrest but his bail was revoked last month after allegations of witness tampering.

With files from CBC News

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