Trump Organization CFO charged: what tax crimes is he accused of?
Allen H. Weisselberg, chief financial officer and long-time advisor to Donald Trump, has surrendered to the Manhattan district attorney on tax crime charges.
New charges have been brought against the Trump Organization and a top executive who has served as Donald Trump’s trusted chief financial officer for decades.
On Thursday it was announced that the Manhattan district attorney’s office had brought charges of grand larceny, tax fraud and other offences against both the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen H. Weisselberg. The latter surrendered to Manhattan prosecutors on Thursday and was pictured in handcuffs soon after.
Prosecutors allege that the company had pursed a 15-year-long scheme to compensate Weisselberg without paying the appropriate taxes. The charges relate to various taxable benefits gifted to the CFO, such as free apartments, leased cars and payment of private school tuition for his grandchild.
Who is Allen H. Weisselberg?
Weisselberg has served as CFO since 2000 but his involvement in the Trump Organization and the former President’s business dealings goes beyond that title. Trump has previously praised the 73-year-old for doing “whatever was necessary to protect the bottom line” and he has become one of Trump’s most trusted business advisors.
Those who have worked with Trump in the past provide testimony to the closeness of the relationship with former Trump executive John Burke describing Weisselberg as “a soldier” in an interview with the New York Times. Burke continued: “Allen was good at doing what Donald wanted him to do.”
The former Brooklyn book-keeper became increasingly involved in the Trump Organization over his near-50 years of service and is known to have lived rent-free with his family in a Trump-branded Manhattan building for years.
This is not the first time Weisselberg has wound up in Trump’s controversies and has been accused by Michael Cohen of attempting to cover up payments made on behalf of Trump to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, also testified to Congress that Weisselberg had helped produce phony real estate valuations to benefit the former President’s business interests.
What has the Trump Organization said about the tax crime charges?
In response to today’s announcement the Trump Organization have issued a statement denying any wrong-doing. The company described Weisselberg as "a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former president."
They accuse the Manhattan attorney of pursuing a political agenda with their continued investigation into the former President’s businesses dealings, which Trump himself described as a “witch hunt.” It is not thought that there are any plans to charge Trump imminently but the surrender of his long-time CFO and business advisor marks a new stage in the investigation.
Weisselberg's lawyers Mary Mulligan and Bryan Skarlatos released on a joint statement on Thursday morning saying: "Mr. Weisselberg intends to plead not guilty and he will fight these charges in court.”