ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - Prosecutors told jurors during closing arguments Wednesday that Paul Manafort is “not above the law,” while defense attorneys for the former Trump campaign chairman argued evidence presented by the government does not add up to criminal conduct.
“Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn’t,” said Greg Andres from the special counsel’s office.
The government has argued Manafort used overseas bank accounts to shield from U.S. taxes more than $15 million he earned from political consulting in Ukraine. To further defer his tax obligations, Manafort is also said to have misreported some of his income as loans.
Andres told the jury that the money helped Manafort live lavishly in the United States. The 69-year-old owns many houses, and upkeep of the properties was ongoing.
Moving to the bank-fraud charges of Manafort’s 32-count indictment, Andres said this activity began around 2015 when the ouster of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych caused the money from his political work to dry up.
Andres pointed to testimony from bank employees, as well as from Manafort’s tax preparers and bookkeepers, who said Manafort falsified financial documents from his businesses and did not disclose liens on his properties in order to receive more than $20 million across five loans from three banks.
“When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort’s money, it is littered with lies,” Andres said.
Prosecutor Andres also emphasized to jurors: “If you have any doubt that he’s guilty of bank fraud or conspiracy to commit bank fraud at the Federal Savings Bank, then all you need to remember is that he sent a fake profit and loss sheet to Federal Savings Bank.”
“Remember, he lied about where he lived and liens on his property. He altered some documents and backdated others,” Andres said.
All told, Andres continued, Manafort had 31 overseas bank accounts from 2010 to 2014.
“Mr. Manafort hid his offshore accounts. He hid them from his tax preparers. He lied about them. He never disclosed to his bookkeepers that they existed,” hesaid.
Andres said Manafort lied about his finances to “evade taxes on the clothes, the cars, the condos and the construction.”
“And remember, this trial is not about his wealth. We’re not here because he’s wealthy but because he filed false tax returns and failed to file FBARs,” Andres said, using the abbreviation for foreign bank account reports. “And the clothes, the cars, condos and construction, all of this is evidence of his unreported income.”
Manafort knows tax law, the prosecutor said later, adding the former lobbyist was “capable and bright” and “trained as a lawyer.”
“He knew the law and he violated it anyway,” Andres told the jury.
Throughout his closing arguments, Andres repeatedly pointed the jury to the reams of documents prosecutors have entered into evidence and displayed on televisions in the courtroom throughout the trial.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the star witness in this case is the documents,” Andres said.