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Trump Organization and its CFO charged with tax-related crimes
1 July 2021, 19:55 | Updated: 1 July 2021, 21:46
The Trump Organization - a group of business entities owned by former president Donald Trump - and its chief financial officer have been charged with tax-related crimes.
Following a two-year investigation, CFO Allen Weisselberg and the company were charged by the Manhattan district attorney with financial crimes including scheme conspiracy, grand larceny, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records.
Both the organisation and Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty on all charges.
The 73-year-old was pictured on Thursday being led into court wearing handcuffs.
Prosecutors described a 15-year tax scheme, dating back to 2005, and said the charges include 15 felony counts.
They also allege that Weisselberg evaded taxes on more than $1.7 million of income.
The CFO is also alleged to have concealed for years that he was a resident of New York City, which prosecutors say allowed him to avoid paying the city's income taxes.
Prosecutors also claim to have digital drives with grand jury testimony, bookkeeping records, tax records and statements of potential witnesses.
"Even now there's been no attempt to impose discipline on members of the company," Manhattan prosecutor Carey Dunne said.
"There is no clearer example of a company that should be held (responsible)."
Mr Trump himself has not been charged at this stage of the investigation, which was jointly pursued by New York district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr and attorney general Letitia James - both Democrats.
A statement released by The Trump Organization on Thursday said that Weisselberg is being used by Manhattan prosecutors "as a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former president".
"The District Attorney is bringing a criminal prosecution involving employee benefits that neither the IRS nor any other District Attorney would ever think of bringing. This is not justice; this is politics."
Mr Dunne said the scheme was "orchestrated by the most senior executives", including chief financial officer Weisselberg, and was "sweeping and audacious".
Weisselberg's lawyers, Mary Mulligan and Bryan Skarlatos, said in a statement before his appearance that the executive would "fight these charges in court".
Mr Trump did not respond to reporters' questions about the case as he visited Texas on Wednesday. Earlier in the week, he blasted New York prosecutors as "rude, nasty, and totally biased" and said his company's actions were "standard practice throughout the US business community, and in no way a crime".