Paul Manafort Guilty on Eight Counts, Including Bank Fraud

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – A federal jury in northern Virginia found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty Tuesday of hiding millions of dollars in offshore accounts and lying to bankers to get loans.

The verdict comes after four days of deliberations following a document-heavy, 12-day trial where prosecutors laid out an exhaustive case depicting Manafort’s role in a web of international scheming undertaken to fund his lavish lifestyle.

In this courtroom drawing, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, left, sits with his lawyer Kevin Downing at Manafort’s trial in Alexandria, Va., on Aug. 7, 2018. (Dana Verkouteren via AP)

Jurors found Manafort guilty on 8 counts, including bank fraud, failing to file reports of foreign bank account,  and falsifying individual income on a tax return.

The 69-year-old, who now faces up to 80 years in prison, stood before the verdict was read, and looked down at the defense table as the guilty findings mounted.

Kathleen Manafort, the lobbyist’s wife who has sat behind her husband each day of trial and often waited in the courthouse during deliberations, was expressionless when the verdict was announced.

Prosecutors laid out evidence that millions of dollars flowed through offshore accounts and millions more were falsely represented on doctored financial records Manafort gave to his accountants, tax preparers and even bankers he tried to get loans from to offset his dwindling consulting income and ever-increasing lifestyle expenses – from his $15,000 ostrich jacket to an $18,000 python jacket to a manicured flower bed emblazoned with the letter “M” at his stately manse in Bridgehampton, New York.

In addition to President Donald Trump, the wealthy lobbyist has also worked in advisory roles for the presidential campaigns of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole.

All told, $65 million flowed through Manafort’s foreign bank accounts between 2010 and 2014. The former Trump campaign chairman spent over $15 million on real estate and luxury purchases and fraudulently obtained more than $20 million in loans.

Prosecutors also revealed Manafort used his power and connections inside the Trump campaign to pull strings when obtaining a $16 million loan from Federal Savings Bank. The funds were approved while the bank’s CEO Steve Calk actively sought a cabinet position in the Trump administration, according to witness testimony during trial.

The guilty verdict is a victory for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s broader investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election which critics, including President Trump, have slammed as a baseless “witch hunt.”

Manafort’s conviction marks the first guilty verdict in the Mueller probe after several others, including Manafort’s former assistant Rick Gates, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

Manafort also faces a separate criminal trial next month in Washington on alleged violations of foreign lobbying rules.

In related news, Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday asked a federal judge to postpone sentencing former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, saying his office “does not believe that this matter is ready to be scheduled for a sentencing hearing at this time.”

This story is developing…

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