Trump Organization exec surrenders to authorities ahead of expected tax charges

1 July 2021, 16:15

The Trump Organisation is expected to face charges for tax crimes related to fringe benefits for employees
The Trump Organisation is expected to face charges for tax crimes related to fringe benefits for employees. Picture: PA

By Daisy Stephens

Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg has reportedly surrendered to authorities ahead of expected charges against him and Donald Trump's company.

Weisselberg – a loyal lieutenant to Trump and his real estate-developer father, Fred – was seen walking into a courthouse in lower Manhattan at around 6.20am local time with his lawyer.

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New York prosecutors are expected to announce the first criminal indictment on Thursday in a two-year investigation into Mr Trump's business practices, accusing his namesake company and Weisselberg of tax crimes related to fringe benefits for employees.

The planned charges – said to be linked to benefits the company gave to top executives, like the use of apartments, cars and school tuition – remained sealed on Wednesday night but were to be unveiled ahead of an afternoon arraignment at a state court in Manhattan, according to two people familiar with the matter.

There was no indication Mr Trump himself would be charged at this stage of the investigation, jointly pursued by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr and New York Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats.

Mr Trump did not respond to reporters' shouted questions about the New York case as he visited Texas on Wednesday, but earlier in the week, the Republican had blasted the 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".

Mr Vance, who leaves office at the end of the year, has been conducting a wide-ranging investigation into a variety of matters involving Mr Trump and the Trump Organisation.

His office has looked into hush-money payments paid to women on Mr Trump's behalf and truthfulness in the company's property valuations and tax assessments, among other matters.

Mr Vance fought a long battle to get Mr Trump's tax records and has been subpoenaing documents and interviewing company executives and other Trump insiders.

Ms James assigned two lawyers from her office to work with Mr Vance's team after her office found evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing while conducting a separate civil investigation of Mr Trump.

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Weisselberg, 73, had come under scrutiny, in part, because of questions about his son's use of a Trump apartment at little or no cost.

Barry Weisselberg, who managed a Trump-operated ice rink in Central Park, testified in a 2018 divorce deposition that Trump Parc East apartment was a "corporate apartment, so we didn't have rent".

His ex-wife, Jen Weisselberg, has been cooperating with both inquiries and given investigators reams of tax records and other documents.

The case against Allen Weisselberg could give prosecutors the means to pressure the executive into cooperating and telling them what he knows about Mr Trump's business dealings.