Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg surrenders to New York authorities – Silicon Valley

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By Greg Farrell and Patricia Hurtado | Bloomberg

Longtime Trump Organization CFO surrendered to New York authorities, facing tax-related charges in most direct attack on Donald Trump and his company resulting from lengthy criminal investigation years of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Allen Weisselberg, 73, went through a freight entrance to avoid cameras awaiting his arrival in lower Manhattan on Thursday, a day after a grand jury indicted him and the company in an extraordinary challenge launched at the former president.

The exact charges he faces will be unveiled later today, but are expected to involve unpaid taxes on the benefits granted to Weisselberg, according to a person familiar with the issue who asked not to be identified to discuss confidential matters. Trump shouldn’t be named in the charges, but they are stepping up pressure on Weisselberg to cooperate against his boss.

Weisselberg’s cooperation could lead to a broader case against the company and raise the prospect of a historic and politically charged prosecution of a former president. With a trial unlikely before next year, Weisselberg will have months to decide whether to fight the charges or plead guilty and possibly strike a deal with prosecutors. A Trump executive for four decades, Weisselberg has a unique insight into the former president’s finances and trade deals.

Trump called the investigation by Vance, a Democrat, politically motivated. “They will do anything to stop the MAGA movement (and me),” he said in a June 28 statement, referring to his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”. Former Trump senior adviser Jason Miller tweeted on Wednesday that a case against Weisselberg would be a “political disaster” for Democrats because it did not include Trump.

Trump Organization attorney Ronald Fischetti said last week the district attorney’s case looked slim.

“In my more than 50 years of practice, I had never seen the prosecutor’s office target a company over employee compensation or benefits,” he said in a June 25 interview. . “The IRS would not, and has not, brought a case like this one.”

But a number of legal experts have said the charges against his CFO increase the potential legal danger to Trump.

“The question is not whether this is the strongest proof they can give against the Trump Organization, but whether it is the strongest proof they can give against Weisselberg.” said Jeremy Temkin, a former prosecutor. “The pressure on a potential cooperating witness changes dramatically when it appears in the caption of an indictment. It’s about putting pressure on Weisselberg and getting him to cooperate.

Focus prosecutor

Vance’s investigation initially focused on reimbursement by the Trump Organization, through Weisselberg’s office, of hidden money payments made by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer. As the 2016 election neared, Cohen paid off two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

The district attorney’s investigation has since evolved into an examination of the company’s relationships with various outside business entities, including Deutsche Bank AG and Ladder Capital, where one of Weisselberg’s sons works. New York Attorney General Letitia James joined the criminal investigation earlier this year, while maintaining a separate civil investigation into the company’s business practices, particularly its property valuation.

Prosecutors also looked at an array of benefits the Trump organization granted privileged employees, including Barry Weisselberg, Allen’s son, who ran New York properties run by Trump like Wollman Rink before those concessions were made. be removed by Mayor Bill DeBlasio this year. He was provided with a rent-free apartment in a Trump apartment building starting in 2005, Bloomberg reported.

The Trump Organization also paid tuition at private schools for Allen Weisselberg’s grandchildren. These benefits are generally taxable as income, and it could be a crime to not report them.

To convict the Trump Organization or Weisselberg of tax evasion, prosecutors must show that they intended to defraud and must prove the value of these benefits and the underpaid taxes.

“Payroll taxes are owed on income,” said Susan Hoffinger, tax lawyer and former attorney with the Manhattan district attorney’s office. “If these benefits are considered income, they owe payroll taxes on that. “

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