Friday, January 27, 2023

Trump Organization found guilty of tax fraud scheme

Trump Organization found guilty of tax fraud scheme

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump's real estate company was convicted of carrying out a 15-year-long criminal scheme to defraud tax authorities, adding to the legal woes facing the former US president as he campaigns for the office again in 2024.

The Trump Organization - which operates hotels, golf courses, and other real estate around the world - was found guilty of paying personal expenses for top executives including former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, and issuing bonus checks to them as if they were independent contractors.

The company faces up to $1.6 million in fines after being convicted on all charges, including scheming to defraud tax authorities, conspiracy and falsifying business records. Trump was not charged in the case.

Justice Juan Merchan, who presided over the trial in state court in New York, set a sentencing date for Jan. 13.

While the fine is not expected to be material for a company of the Trump Organization's size, the conviction could complicate its ability to do business.

Weisselberg, 75, testified as the government's star witness as part of a plea deal that calls for a sentence of five months in jail.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose office prosecuted the case, called the verdict "very just."

"The former president's companies now stand convicted of crimes," Bragg said in the New York courthouse after the verdict, speaking of the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation, the two units of the Trump Organization which were convicted.

Asked if he regretted not charging Trump in the case, Bragg did not respond.

He has said that the office's investigation into Trump is continuing.

APPEAL

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, said the company would appeal and that the criminal law governing corporate liability was vague.

"It was central to the case," he told reporters after the verdict.

The jury deliberated for about 12 hours over two days.