Following a five-week trial, a New York jury convicted the Trump Organization — whose corporations were charged with improperly decreasing the tax it paid on executive pay by granting top managers “off the books” bonuses — on all 17 charges on Tuesday.
The case, which was first initiated by the Manhattan district attorney’s office last summer, was based on the evidence of the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who has worked for the Trump family in various capacities since 1973.
In August, Weisselberg pled guilty to deceiving tax authorities through a plan in which he received $1.76 million in undisclosed income from Trump organizations in the form of a luxurious Upper West Side condominium, Mercedes automobiles, and private tuition for his granddaughters.
Lawyers for the Trump businesses said that Weisselberg and the Trump Organization’s controller, Jeffrey McConney, operated alone, and that despite personally signing multiple cheques and leases, Trump was unaware of the tax fraud being done by his closest lieutenants.
Under cross-examination, Weisselberg, who is still on the payroll of the Trump Organization, fought back tears as he appeared to support that assertion, maintaining that it was his “greed” alone that had caused him to keep the perks off his employer’s tax forms.
Defence attorney Michael van der Veen said the testimony proved that “Weisselberg did it for Weisselberg”. In closing arguments, he added: “This case isn’t about Donald Trump, it is about Weisselberg and two corporate entities that did not commit crimes.”
The conviction of the Trump Organization was a devastating blow to the former president, exposing what prosecutors called a “culture of fraud and deception” at his organization and supplying ammo to his political opponents as he prepares to run for a third term.
The maximum penalty the corporation could face is $1.62 million, a pittance for the conglomerate, which regularly generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue throughout his presidency. The corporation has spent more money on legal fees in order to fight the complaint.
The verdict adds another hurdle to Trump’s third bid for presidency in 2024, as he sustains a lukewarm support from the Republican party.
However, this is not the last legal battle Trump’s businesses have to face. It has still to cope with a slew of financial fraud claims brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James in a civil lawsuit expected to go to trial in October 2023. A loss in the case may result in fines of more than $250 million.
Information for this briefing was found via Financial Times, The New York Times, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.