Manafort accountant testifies she helped falsify tax records

Manafort accountant testifies she helped falsify tax records
© Greg Nash

A former accountant for former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortFormer White House lawyer sought to pay Manafort, Gates legal fees: report Mueller investigating Russian payments made by Trump Tower meeting organizers: report Cohen questioned for hours in Mueller probe about Trump's dealings with Russia: report MORE testified Friday that she helped falsify tax records on his behalf in order to misrepresent $900,000 in personal income as a business loan.

Cindy Laporta testified before a jury that she was told by Manafort's former business associate, Richard Gates, that Manafort couldn't afford to pay his taxes in 2015, telling her that she should instead misrepresent Manafort's income, The Washington Post Reported

The misrepresentation is estimated to have saved Manafort at least $400,000 in taxes, according to Laporta.

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Laporta, who has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors for her testimony, added that she chose to go along with the scheme in order to avoid potential litigation from Manafort's lobbying firm.

“I had a couple of choices at that point,” Laporta said. “I could have refused to file the tax return,” which would have led to a lawsuit, she said.

“I could have called Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates liars,” she continued, according to the Post. “But Mr. Manafort was a longtime client of the firm and I did not want to do that, either.”

Laporta went on to say that she regretted the decision to falsify the tax records. When she asked Gates for a record of the so-called business loan, she said, he provided a document bearing Manafort's signature.

Her testimony came a day after the former Trump campaign chair's personal bookkeeper testified that Manafort approved "every penny" of his financial dealings amid reports that he spent lavishly on menswear and items for his home.

Prosecutors have sought to cast Manafort as a prolific spender who used money illegally hidden from U.S. authorities and made from lobbying for pro-Russia political groups in Ukraine to fund his sumptuous habits.

Manafort is facing 18 charges in his Virginia trial, which began this week, and could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He also faces separate charges in Washington, D.C., in a trial scheduled to begin next month.