Manafort seeks acquittal as tax, bank fraud trial moves to defense

Banker testifies after unexplained recess

Banker testifies after unexplained recess

Prosecutors rested their case on Monday in the federal tax and bank fraud trial of Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The government says Manafort hid around $16 million in income from the IRS between 2010 and 2014 by disguising money he earned advising politicians in Ukraine as loans and hiding it in foreign banks.

The testimony from James Brennan, a vice president at Federal Savings Bank whose chairman allegedly sought a role in the Trump campaign, represented the capstone to the prosecution's case that has featured 28 witnesses over 10 days here. Gates was also forced to admit embezzling a fortune from Manafort and having an extramarital affair.

Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, rested his case Tuesday morning.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on May 23, 2018 in Washington, DC.

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"It closed because Mr. Calk wanted it to close", Brennan said, referring to one of the loans. Then, after his money in Ukraine dried up, they allege he defrauded banks by lying about his income on loan applications.

The prosecution had planned to rest its case last week, but an unknown issue that the judge chose to keep under seal delayed the start of proceedings for several hours that day. Liss testified last week that Manafort did not disclose his foreign bank accounts. One such name in this email is Stephen Calk, one of the owners of the Federal Savings Bank, which Manafort is accused of conspiring with to defraud.

Brennan was the 27th prosecution witness to testify against Manafort in the first major test in court for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is now leading an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Information about Manafort's company's income, his unpaid debts from his Yankees season ticket and undisclosed mortgages on his other properties in NY raised red flags internally at the bank, he added.

The loan, a $9.5 million mortgage on Manafort's home in the Hamptons, came after a previous construction loan proposal for a property in California fell apart at the closing table.

The trappings of Manafort's lifestyle dominated media headlines throughout the trial: there was half a million dollars worth of antique rugs, $750,000 spent on landscaping for his $13 million Bridgehampton mansion, and more than $1 million for clothing, including a $15,000 jacket made of ostrich skin.

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Defence attorneys have so far blamed any wrongdoing on Rick Gates, Manafort's former protege, who testified August 6. Prosecutors said Calk unsuccessfully sought a larger role in the Trump administration. "So I'll permit two hours, but I tell you, it's no accident that TV programs are half an hour", Ellis told them on Friday, continuing his active presence in the courtroom.

Mueller's team hinted in a sidebar conference with Ellis and Manafort's lawyers Friday that Calk is facing more scrutiny than the allegations heard so far at Manafort's trial.

Brennan said the Chicago-based bank lost $11.8 million because it had to write off a significant portion of two loans it made to Manafort.

The judge is expected to decide Tuesday on whether to grant a defense motion to dismiss the case before the case goes to the jury - a frequent defense request that is rarely granted.

Ellis made this clear during his brief conversation with Manafort.

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