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Trump Organization charged with 15 years of tax crimes, CFO pleads 'not guilty'

News Agencies | Updated on: 2 July 2021, 9:07 IST

The Trump Organization was charged in a New York court on Thursday with a litany of tax crimes ranging over 15 years that its Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to and which the former US president called "politically motivated."

Donald Trump himself was not charged although the indictment against the Trump Organization and Trump Payroll Corporation described a scheme that benefited people other than Weisselberg. "One of the largest individual beneficiaries of the defendants' scheme was Allen Weisselberg," said the charge sheet laid out against the CFO who was brought into the courtroom in handcuffs, before his not guilty plea was recorded against 15 felony counts that began around 2005 and included a scheme to defraud, conspiracy, grand larceny and falsifying of business records.

Trump lashed out at the charges against his business empire. "The political Witch Hunt by the Radical Left Democrats, with New York now taking over the assignment, continues. It is dividing our Country like never before!" the former president said in a statement.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said the investigations against the Trump Organization do not end with Weisselberg's indictment. "This investigation will continue, and we will follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead," James said in a statement distributed via Twitter.

According to the charges unsealed in court, the scheme led by Weisselberg allowed certain Trump Organization employees to substantially understate their compensation from the company, so that they could -- and did -- pay federal, state, and local taxes in amounts that were significantly less than the amounts that should have been paid.

Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp were also accused of failing to withhold income taxes on wages, salaries, bonuses and other forms of compensation paid to certain employees, according to the charges that did not name any individual other than Weisselberg.

In the case of the chief financial officer, extensive details were provided on how he received indirect employee compensation from the Trump Organization in the approximate amount of $1.76 million. He was accused of evading approximately $556,385 in federal taxes, around $106,568 in state taxes, and about $238,159 in New York City taxes. He was also said to have falsely claimed and received approximately $94,902 in federal tax refunds and approximately $38,222 in state tax refunds, to which he was not entitled.

The charges even cited unreported payment of rent, utility, and garage expenses for Weisselberg's apartment in New York City as well as payment of tuition expenses for his family members and payment of leases on Mercedes Benz cars owned by him and his wife.

The charges against the Trump Organization come after at least three years of tax-related investigations against the former president, whom tax return documents reported by the New York Times last year showed did not pay any taxes for at least a decade before his successful 2016 campaign for the White House.

It was not immediately clear how the charges could impact the political future of Trump, who has hinted at another run for the White House in 2024 after losing last year to Democratic rival Joe Biden.


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First published: 2 July 2021, 9:07 IST