July 26, 2021

Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleads not guilty to tax fraud charges against him

Allen Weisselberg, 73, CFO of the Trump Organization, loyal to former President Donald Trump, has pleaded not guilty to the fifteen counts (all related to tax evasion) that have been brought against him in Manhattan court, where he arrived handcuffed Thursday 1is July. The indictment, which has been released, targets Mr. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization.

Mr. Weisselberg is notably accused of having deliberately, between 2005 and 2021, withheld from the tax authorities some $ 1.7 million in benefits in kind that he received from the Trump Organization, which would have avoided paying close to $ 1 million in federal and local taxes. He is also accused of claiming – wrongly – not to be a resident of New York City in order to be subject to tax. The Trump Organization, for its part, is accused of helping Mr. Weisselberg hide these advantages.

Mr Weisselberg was ordered to surrender his passport to avoid any risk of flight and he was released without bail. He left the courthouse without commenting. A new hearing is scheduled for September 20.

In a statement, Donald Trump used words already well known to his detractors throughout his term in office: “The political witch hunt led by the Democrats of the radical left (…) keep on going. It divides our country like never before. “

Weisselberg’s lawyer, Mary Mulligan, had indicated before the hearing that the latter would “Fight against these accusations”. The Trump Organization has also accused prosecutor Cyrus Vance, a Democrat who has been investigating possible embezzlement within the group for more than two years, of politically motivated prosecutions.

“Manhattan District Attorney Launches Employee Benefit Lawsuits That Neither The Tax Office Or Any Other Attorney Would Consider To Launch”, said a spokesperson for the family business, headquartered in the Trump Tower on famous Fifth Avenue.

Allen Weisselberg “Is used as a pawn by the Manhattan district attorney (…) to try to harm the former president ” Donald Trump, added the same spokesperson. “It’s not justice, it’s politics. ” Among the benefits in kind that the CFO is accused of having concealed is his apartment, located in the upper West Side of Manhattan.

Read also Trump Organization targeted by criminal investigation

Donald Trump should not be personally targeted

It has been almost three years since Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance launched this investigation (still ongoing) and several months since working with the services of the New York State Attorney General, the Democrat. Letitia James.

Mr. Vance notably fought for months to obtain the tax returns of the former New York magnate, the first American president since the 1970s not to have published them.

Read also Donald Trump’s income tax returns must be brought to justice, Supreme Court announces

The former Republican president, who maintains ambiguity over a possible new presidential candidacy in 2024 and held his first major meeting last week since leaving Washington, has not been questioned at this stage, nor him or any member of his family. But, after the hearing, Attorney General Letitia James issued the warning: “The investigation will continue, and we will follow the facts wherever they take us. “

After his election to the White House, Donald Trump refused to sell his business, choosing to leave the reins to Allen Weisselberg and his two eldest sons, Donald Jr and Eric Trump. One of the attorneys for the Trump Organization admitted earlier this week, after being warned of the upcoming charges, that Mr. Trump was not “Not yet out of the woods”.

Many of the former president’s opponents publicly rejoice in his company’s legal setbacks and impatiently wait for him to be directly implicated. His former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the first in Trump’s entourage to be indicted, before being sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 (he had pleaded guilty), said in a tweet Wednesday that he «Pri[ait] for that day to come “.

Read also Back on stage, Donald Trump maintains the suspense over a new candidacy

Le Monde with AFP, AP and Reuters