The tax evasion and bank fraud prosecution of Paul Manafort could draw to a close as early as the end of the week, prosecutors said Tuesday before Judge T.S. Ellis III recessed the court for lunch.
Ellis has hounded special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s prosecution team to sideline evidence and witnesses that are not directly related to the charges against Manafort.
When do prosecutors hope to rest their case? Ellis asked after he dismissed the jury for lunch Tuesday.
“We’re hoping by the end of this week,” U.S. Attorney Greg Andres said. “That’s our intention.”
Andres spent the morning questioning Manafort’s longtime deputy, Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy against the United States and one charge of lying to an FBI agent in exchange for testifying against his former boss.
Manafort faces 18 charges of tax evasion and bank fraud and a maximum 305-year prison sentence if the Eastern Virginia jury hands him a guilty verdict.
Gates explained Tuesday how he and Manafort opened up bank accounts in Cyprus using “shelf” companies created and nominally maintained by a Cypriot law firm to make it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to find a paper trail or fingerprints tying Manafort to the accounts.
From 2007 to 2016, they funneled millions of dollars into the accounts, which Gates said Manafort used to duck roughly $15 million in taxes.
Gates is the 15th witness the government has called to testify in the trial through the halfway point of the sixth day. Prosecutors originally submitted 35 potential witnesses.
But Ellis, ever with an eye toward moving the trial along as quickly as possible, asked whether the prosecutors planned to leave out witnesses and end the trial sooner.
“That’s absolutely true, your honor,” Andres said.
Andres will continue questioning Gates for roughly an hour Tuesday before the defense gets a chance to cross-examine him.