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Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg pleads guilty: could this affect Donald Trump?

The long-time chief financial officer of the Trump family business has admitted to a 15-year tax avoidance scheme which benefitted top executives.

Update:
Trump Organization executive pleads guilty to tax avoidance
BRENDAN MCDERMIDREUTERS

Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer at the Trump Organization, has pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion charges spanning a 15-year period. The sprawling scheme allowed the long-serving executive to conceal more than $1.7 million of his own earnings and avoid paying taxes.

He has been sentenced to five months at Rikers Island prison and ordered to pay back the outstanding taxes. Donald Trump has not been implicated in this case but Weisselberg admitted to conspiring with the Trump Organization to allow executives to receive tax-free benefits.

What crimes has Allen Weisselberg been convicted of?

Across the past 15 years Weisselberg admitted to illegally avoiding paying taxes on $1.76 million in income, participating in a scheme which saw he and other executives compensated for their work with ‘off-the-books’ perks and benefits.

After the sentence was announced, Manhattan district attorney Alvin L. Bragg said:

“Instead of paying his fair share like everyone else, Weisselberg had the Trump Organization provide him with a rent-free apartment, expensive cars, private school tuition for his grandchildren and new furniture — all without paying required taxes.”

But while Weisselberg admitted to working alongside the Trump Organization in crafting the avoidance schemes, he stopped short of personally implicating the former President in any way. Prosecutors had piled pressure on the 75-year-old in the hope that he would incriminate his boss, but he refused to do so.

How will Weisselberg’s conviction affect Donald Trump?

Weisselberg first entered the Trump family businesses in the early 1970s for Trump’s father, and rose to a prominent position in the subsequent decades. His loyalty to his boss may have disappointed prosecutors but the claims Weisselberg made against Trump’s eponymous organization will still hold great weight in future legal proceedings.

The deal struck between Weisselberg and prosecutors requires him to testify in an upcoming trial investigating the company’s financial affairs which is due to begin in October. Having admitted to working in collaboration with the Trump Organization to allow executives to avoid tax, Weisselberg will likely have to incriminate the company to some degree.

Weisselberg has no obligation to cooperate with a separate, broader criminal investigation into Donald Trump personally. Despite receiving a significant reduction in jail time for pleading guilty, the 75-year-old’s refusal to incriminate Trump and instead receive a prison sentence shows the extent of his loyalty to the family.

However Bragg remained bullish about the effect that Thursday’s conviction could have on the upcoming case, emphasising that it “directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activity.

He continued: “We look forward to proving our case in court against the Trump Organization.”

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