We can’t say we’re shocked by this turn of events.
Paul Manafort’s former accountant was fired from a Virginia firm after she told the court she was aware that Manafort’s tax returns contained false information.
Cindy Laporta testified Friday [Aug. 3] in the government’s case against the former Trump campaign chairman, saying she went along with the scam because she was worried Manafort and his right-hand-man Rick Gates would sue. Laporta was given immunity from prosecution for her testimony in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Laporta admitted on the witness stand last Friday that during a conference call in September 2015, she agreed, on Gates’ urging, to alter a tax document for one of Manafort’s businesses in order to disguise $900,000 in foreign income as a loan, according to the Associated Press, thus reducing Manafort’s tax burden by nearly half a million dollars.
The AP wrote:
When Laporta and a colleague provided an assessment of how much tax Manafort would owe, Gates responded that Manafort didn’t have the money to pay it. After a back-and-forth discussion about how much income should be reclassified as a loan to aid Manafort, they settled on $900,000, she testified.
The result, Laporta said, was an altered tax payment that Gates told her “could be paid by Mr. Manafort.”
Laporta … said she knew what she did was “not appropriate,” adding that “you can’t pick and choose what’s a loan and what’s income.”
Asked why she engaged in misconduct, Laporta said she had few good choices.
“I could have called them liars,” she said of Manafort and Gates. “But Mr. Manafort was a longtime client of the firm, and I didn’t think I should do that.”
Laporta also testified that she received questionable financial statements from Gates or Manafort. In one instance, in August 2016, the same month Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign, he emailed Laporta and asked her to alter a profit-and-loss-statement for his company, the AP reported.
At that time, his company had not received any income in 2016, but Laporta testified that Manafort directed her to reflect that he expected to receive $2.4 million in income later that year.
Laporta said Manafort provided no documentation to back up the claim. Nevertheless, she wrote an email to loan officers saying the income would be received by November of that year.
Evidently, Laporta’s now-former employer, Alexandria-based CPA firm Kositzka, Wicks & Co., had no idea these shenanigans were happening right under its nose, which I don’t know about you, but I find hard to believe.
According to Bloomberg:
Kositzka, Wicks & Co. said in a statement Tuesday it was “shocked by Ms. Laporta’s testimony, which clearly represents that she failed to meet the firm’s high standards for professional and ethical conduct in her work for Mr. Manafort.” In a follow-up email, the company said: “She is no longer working here.”
This is true because her bio has been removed from the “People” section of KWC’s website. Her LinkedIn page says that she’s a shareholder at KWC.
Also gone from KWC’s website is a “Get to Know Cindy” Q&A, which we found with the help of Archive.org.
When asked what she loves about her job, Laporta said:
I love our team approach and collaboration in our commitment to entrepreneurs.
Sounds like Laporta was definitely committed to the entrepreneurial Manafort and willing to bend the law on his behalf.
When asked why her job matters to her clients, Laporta said:
Our clients rely on our specialized knowledge and they trust our guidance.
It seems Manafort did!
And when asked what her proudest professional achievement was, she said:
I take pride when my clients say “thank you,” this recognition of our impact on their success is rewarding.
Seems like going above and beyond for this particular client ultimately cost Laporta her job. I hope Manafort said “thank you” at least.
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Image: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla