On Tuesday, the anticipated Paul Manafort trial began in Alexandria, VA., and the prosecutor in the case did not hold back in his opening statement.
The thing is, however, Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye argued a simple point. Paul Manafort had over 30 secret bank accounts in various countries. Really, there’s only one reason why one would need over 30 different accounts in three different foreign countries for their money, and that’s to hide their activity.
‘There’s nothing wrong with being successful or rich, but when you sign a federal tax return you swear you have reported all your income.’
He also emphasized Manafort went to great lengths to hide the massive amount of money he had accumulated. Reuters reported:
‘Manafort felt tax and banking laws did not apply to him, a prosecutor said in the government’s opening statement, telling the Virginia federal court jury he opened more than 30 bank accounts in three foreign countries to “receive and hide” income.’
They also reported:
‘Asonye said Manafort set up more than 30 bank accounts in overseas countries and funneled millions of dollars into them in order to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle. Asonye described how Manafort snapped up expensive real estate in the United States, spent millions of dollars on renovating his properties and more than half million dollars on “fancy clothes.”‘
Specifically, Asonye mentioned Manafort owned a $15,000 jacket that was made from an ostrich.
However, Manafort’s defense tried to pivot and place the blame on Manafort’s former colleague Rick Gate. Attorney Thomas Zehnle told the jurors:
‘His trust in Rick Gates was misplaced.’
They also added:
‘Money’s coming in fact. It’s a lot, and Paul Manafort trusted that Rick Gates was keeping track of it. …That’s what Rick Gates was being paid to do.’
They also argued that Manafort used the foreign accounts because his Ukrainian clients insisted he do so.
‘The lawyer also said that Manafort agreed to receive payments from Ukraine’s Party of Regions into offshort bank accounts because the leaders of that party insisted on that system and created the accounts because they did not want it know which candidates they were backing.’
The Ukrainians made me do it!
However, Asonye had different to say:
‘A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him. Not tax, not banking law.’
Here’s the thing. It’s completely basic. If you’re following the law, paying your taxes like a good citizen, and not money laundering, you don’t need over 30 bank accounts, and you definitely don’t need them in different countries.
The fact that Manafort is pleading not guilty when it’s so absolutely simple shows just how high he believes he is above the law.
This is not the only courtroom Manafort will be gracing with his presence. Reuters reported he will be going to Washington to face more charges.
‘The Virginia trial will be followed by a second one in Washington in September in which Manafort is charged with money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to those charges.’
In this first trial, Manafort is charged with bank fraud and tax crimes.
Featured image screenshot via Twitter.