The Trump Organization, run for years by former US president Donald Trump and three of his adult children, was convicted of tax fraud by a New York jury
New York (AFP) - Donald Trump’s family business was found guilty of tax fraud by a New York jury Tuesday, dealing a blow to the ex-president as he eyes the White House again.
The Trump Organization was found guilty on all nine counts, marking the first time it had ever been convicted of crimes, prosecutors said in a statement.
“This was a case about greed and cheating. In Manhattan, no corporation is above the law,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Trump’s company faces a fine of around $1.5 million, a paltry sum to the billionaire real estate developer but one likely to inflict damage to his reputation as he seeks the presidency in 2024.
The Trump Organization and separate Trump entity the Trump Payroll Corp were convicted of running a 13-year-scheme to defraud and evade taxes by falsifying business records.
Jurors agreed with prosecutors that the Trump Organization – currently run by Trump’s two adult sons, Donald Jr and Eric Trump – hid compensation it paid to top executives between 2005 and 2021.
Longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg, had already pleaded guilty to 15 counts of tax fraud, and testified against his former company as part of a plea bargain.
A close friend of the Trump family, the 75-year-old Weisselberg admitted he schemed with the company to receive undeclared benefits such as a rent-free apartment in a posh Manhattan neighborhood, luxury cars for him and his wife and private school tuition for his grandchildren.
According to his plea deal, Weisselberg agreed to pay nearly $2 million in fines and penalties and complete a five-month prison sentence in exchange for testimony during the trial, which started in October.
Trump, who had slammed the charges as a “witch hunt” by rivals,” was himself not named in the case.
“For 13 years the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation got away with a scheme that awarded high-level executives with lavish perks and compensation while intentionally concealing the benefits from the taxing authorities to avoid paying taxes,” said Bragg.
“Today’s verdict holds these Trump companies accountable for their long-running criminal scheme,” he added.