Cynthia Laporta, aertified public accountant with the firm KWC who is testifying with immunity, admitted she did have concerns about the representations given to her about loans by Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates.
The testimony of tax preparer Cindy Laporta, who works at Kositzka Wicks & Co.in Alexandria, Va., came as prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller's office focused on the heart of their financial fraud case against Manafort, with jurors hearing testimony that he inflated his business income by millions of dollars and concealed foreign bank accounts he was using to buy luxury items and pay personal expenses.
Ms Laporta said she knew it was "inappropriate" but agreed to alter the records to show that Mr Manafort's firm received a $US1.2 million loan from Telmar in 2014, a change that would save Mr Manafort almost a half million dollars in USA taxes, Ms Laporta said.
It was Mr Trump's most direct call for his top USA law enforcement officer to shut down Special Counsel Robert Mueller's criminal investigation and Democrats promptly accused the President of trying to obstruct justice.
She added that she had agreed to do this under pressure from Mr Manafort's former associate Rick Gates, who had alleged that Mr Manafort did not have the money to pay the full tax.
In today's testimony, and throughout the trial thus far, neither Trump nor Russian Federation has been discussed, as evidence has focused on Manafort's work as a consultant in the years before he joined Trump's campaign in the presidential year. She testified that she had gone along with Manafort and Gates' allegedly fraudulent scheme because Manafort was a longtime customer of her firm, and she wanted to keep the firm out of immediate trouble.
Prosecutors then asked Laporta how she felt about this decision.
Laporta testified that she told the bank, at Manafort's or Gates' direction, that the loan had been forgiven. So she went ahead and filed the false tax return.
"I very much regret it", Laporta responded.
But Ms. Laporta's actions weren't just limited to filing possible false tax returns.
But the president has also shown sympathy for Manafort's plight, suggesting his former aide is being treated worse than 1920s gangster Al Capone and taking issue with Manafort's pretrial confinement.
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Manafort routed millions of dollars to the United States by putting it in real estate and spending it on expensive suits, cars, and home renovations, according to prosecution witnesses.
Paul Manafort (right) and his lawyer, Kevin Downing, arrive at the federal courthouse for a motion hearing./Victoria Pickering (Flickr).
When prosecutors asked if information of potential foreign accounts would be important to know, Laporta said that it would. It was later signed by a "Georgia Chystostomides". Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye asked Laporta on Friday afternoon.
"I dismissed this letter", she said.
It is clear to me he is very anxious about it and he wants to prevent it any way he can.
Laporta was the latest in a string of accountants that prosecutors have put on the stand, to build their argument that Manafort had lied on tax returns, loan applications, a federal bank declaration, and other records.
Mr Manafort's lawyers have previously argued that Mr Gates is the one responsible for the financial charges. She said she would have documented them for tax purposes if he had.
The defense has claimed that Gates had broad control over Manafort's vast financial holdings and that Manafort was in the dark about the specifics of how Gates hid his income offshore.
In any case, Mr Sessions recused himself from the investigation in March past year and does not have the power to stop it. That was somewhat surprising given that the defense counsel has thrown relatively few questions at prosecution witnesses. That each of the financial professionals told Manafort explicitly and multiple times that he would break the law if he did not disclose his foreign accounts. They were booked to the same Cyprus entity, bringing the total to $1.9 million. But attempts to verify the loan's terms were futile.
For three hours Friday, Laporta appeared to be a knowledgeable and careful accountant, describing with verve the way clients should report taxes and pausing to double-check evidence the prosecutors led her through.
Mr Manafort quit Mr Trump's team in August 2016.