Donald Trump’s company and his longtime finance chief are expected to be charged in the US on Thursday with tax-related crimes stemming from a New York investigation into the former president’s business dealings, people familiar with the matter said.
The charges against the Trump Organisation and the company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, appear to involve non-monetary benefits the company gave to top executives, possibly including use of apartments, cars and school tuition.
Donald Trump with son Donald jnr and CFO Allen Weisselberg (centre).Credit:AP
The people were not authorised to speak about an ongoing investigation and did so on condition of anonymity. The Wall Street Journal was first to report that charges were expected on Thursday.
The charges against Weisselberg and the Trump Organisation would be first criminal cases to arise from the two-year probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance jnr, a Democrat who leaves office at the end of the year.
Prosecutors have been scrutinising Trump’s tax records, subpoenaing documents and interviewing witnesses, including Trump insiders and company executives.
A grand jury was recently convened to weigh evidence and New York Attorney-General Letitia James said she was assigning two of her lawyers to work with Vance on the criminal probe while she continues a civil investigation of Trump.
Messages seeking comment were left with a spokesperson and lawyers for the Trump Organisation. Messages were also left with lawyers for Weisselberg and other company executives. The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance jnr.Credit:AP
Trump’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Jason Miller, a longtime former senior adviser to the Republican, spun the looming charges as “politically terrible for the Democrats”.
“They told their crazies and their supplicants in the mainstream media this was about President Trump. Instead, their Witch Hunt is persecuting an innocent 80 year-old man for maybe taking free parking!” Miller tweeted, apparently referring to Weisselberg, who is 73.
Trump had blasted the investigation in a statement on Monday, deriding Vance’s office as “rude, nasty, and totally biased” in their treatment of Trump company lawyers, representatives, and long-term employees.
Trump, in the statement, said the company’s actions were “things that are standard practice throughout the US business community, and in no way a crime” and that Vance’s probe was an investigation “in search of a crime”.
Trump, who’s been critical of President Joe Biden’s immigration policies, was scheduled to travel on Thursday to Texas to visit the US-Mexico border.
Trump Organisation lawyers met virtually with Manhattan prosecutors last week in a last-ditch attempt to dissuade them from charging the company. Prosecutors gave the lawyers a Monday deadline to make the case that criminal charges shouldn’t be filed.
Ron Fischetti, a lawyer for the Trump Organisation, told the AP this week that there was no indication Trump himself was included in the first batch of charges.
“There is no indictment coming down this week against the former president,” Fischetti said. “I can’t say he’s out of the woods yet completely.”
The Trump Organisation’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, is expected to be charged on Thursday.
Weisselberg, a loyal lieutenant to Trump and his real estate-developer father, Fred, came under scrutiny, in part, because of questions about his son’s use of a Trump apartment at little or no cost.
Barry Weisselberg managed a Trump-operated ice rink in Central Park.
Barry’s ex-wife, Jen Weisselberg, has been co-operating with the investigation and turned over reams of tax records and other documents to investigators.
Allen Weisselberg has worked for the Trump Organisation since 1973.
Prosecutors subpoenaed another long-time Trump finance executive, senior vice president and controller Jeffrey McConney, to testify in front of the grand jury earlier this year. Under New York law, grand jury witnesses are granted immunity and can not be charged for conduct they testify about.
Prosecutors probing untaxed benefits to Trump executives have also been looking at Matthew Calamari, a former Trump bodyguard turned chief operating officer, and his son, the company’s corporate director of security. However, a lawyer for the Calamaris said on Wednesday that he didn’t expect them to be charged.
“Although the DA’s investigation obviously is ongoing, I do not expect charges to be filed against either of my clients at this time,” said the lawyer, Nicholas Gravante.
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