Manafort Jury Set to Hear Final Arguments: Trial Update

(Bloomberg) -- Paul Manafort and his legal team decided on Tuesday not to present defense witnesses in his trial on fraud charges. Manafort, 69, also told the court that he won’t testify in his own behalf. Prosecutors for Special Counsel Robert Mueller offered 27 witnesses over two weeks. They say that Manafort omitted foreign bank accounts and income from his tax returns, failed to file reports about his overseas accounts, and misled three banks to obtain $20 million in loans.

Defense Rests Without Calling Witnesses (12:05 p.m.)

Manafort’s legal team rested its case on Tuesday, setting the stage for closing arguments before the judge hands the case to jurors for a verdict.

The defense called no witnesses, choosing to rely instead on the team’s cross-examination of government witnesses including Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime deputy, and several accountants, bookkeepers and bankers who had financial dealings with Manafort.

Manafort is accused of defrauding banks to secure loans and hiding overseas bank accounts and income from U.S. tax authorities.

Trial Is Paused as Judge Considers Sealed Motion (11:17 a.m.)

The start of the trial’s 11th day was delayed as U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III considered a defense motion filed under seal. The government responded to the sealed motion on Monday, and the judge convened a closed-door session on Tuesday morning with lawyers on both sides but no jury present.

Manafort Asks Judge to Dismiss Bank Fraud Counts (8:46 a.m.)

Now that the prosecution has rested its case, Manafort wants the judge to dismiss four counts in his indictment relating to $16 million that he borrowed from Federal Savings Bank in Chicago. Defense lawyers argued in court papers filed late Monday that prosecutors failed to prove that the bank relied on false information in deciding whether to lend money to Manafort.

The bank was aware of Manafort’s true financial status, despite testimony by prosecution witnesses that he concealed his debts and inflated his income, according to the filing. Those witnesses said the bank chief executive officer, Stephen Calk, overrode red flags at the bank. Prosecutors said he made the loans because he wanted Manafort’s help in late 2016 in obtaining a job with the incoming administration of President Donald Trump.

“Any purported misstatements regarding Mr. Manafort’s income or credit card debt were immaterial” to the bank’s decision about whether to make the loans, according to the filing.

They want he judge to dismiss those four counts in the 18-count indictment. Manafort’s lawyers will then reveal whether he’ll put on defense witnesses, and ultimately, whether he’ll testify.


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