Trump company, CFO expected to face criminal chargesPosted On: Jun. 30, 2021 2:13 PM CST
(Reuters) — Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s namesake company and its chief financial officer are expected to be criminally charged on Thursday in Manhattan, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
Charges by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance have been expected to focus on whether Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and other officials received perks and benefits such as rent-free apartments and leased cars without reporting them properly on their tax returns, people familiar with the probe have said.
The person familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mr. Weisselberg and the company were expected to be arraigned on an indictment on Thursday. Former President Trump’s lawyer Ronald Fischetti told Reuters on Monday that he expected the charges to be tax-related.
Mary Mulligan, a lawyer for Mr. Weisselberg, declined to comment on possible charges. District Attorney Vance’s office also declined to comment. Lawyers for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Former President Trump, a Republican, was not expected to be charged himself, according to people involved in the case.
In a statement on Monday, former President Trump called prosecutors biased and said his company’s actions were “in no way a crime.” Mr. Fischetti also said on Monday that District Attorney Vance’s case is without merit, and he had never in the last half a century seen the district attorney’s office target a company over fringe benefits.
An indictment could imperil the Trump Organization by causing banks and business partners to stop doing business with it, and result in fines and other penalties if the company were found guilty.
Charges also could increase pressure on Mr. Weisselberg to cooperate with prosecutors, which he has resisted. Mr. Weisselberg is a close confidant of the former president, making his cooperation potentially crucial to any future case against him himself.
Court filings, public records and subpoenaed documents have shown that Mr. Weisselberg and his son Barry have received perks and gifts potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including many benefits related to real estate.
More charges could be filed against the Trump Organization or officers there, people familiar with the case have said.
District Attorney Vance, a Democrat, has in his nearly three-year-old investigation examined an array of potential wrongdoing, including whether former President Trump’s company manipulated the value of its real estate to reduce its taxes and secure favorable loan terms.
Prior to entering the White House in January 2017, former President Trump had put his company into a trust overseen by his adult sons and Mr. Weisselberg, who has maintained tight control over its finances. It is unclear what role former President Trump now has at the company.
The case could also complicate former President Trump’s political future, as he flirts with a possible 2024 White House run.
Prosecutors in District Attorney Vance’s office accelerated their focus on the Trump Organization’s use of perks and benefits last fall.
Jennifer Weisselberg, the former wife of Barry Weisselberg, has met with prosecutors half a dozen times, and according to her lawyer has provided boxes of tax and bank records as well as financial statements.
In an interview with MSNBC, Jennifer Weisselberg said she would be prepared to testify.
“Yes, absolutely,” she said. “I’m ready. I’m prepared and that’s what I’m preparing. My documents at this time are witnesses themselves. They are being used, and they’re being walked through the grand jury panel.”
“We’ve been going through questions pertaining to compensation, perks and taxes just to review how to ... inform a grand jury,” she added.
Former President Trump is visiting the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday, as Republicans attack Democratic President Joe Biden over the rise in migrants caught entering the United States.
Even if former President Trump is not charged by District Attorney Vance, the former president still faces at least 17 other investigations and lawsuits.
These include a criminal investigation into whether he tried to improperly influence Georgia election officials to ensure he would defeat President Biden in that state’s 2020 presidential vote. They also include defamation lawsuits by two women who said former President Trump lied when he denied having sexually assaulted them.