New York, Dec 6 (EFE).- The Trump Organization of former President Donald Trump on Tuesday was found guilty of tax evasion for paying top executives “under the table,” providing a significant part of their compensation in ways that could reduce their taxes, local media reported.
The two companies found guilty by a jury in the Manhattan Supreme Court are the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation, although neither the ex-president nor any of his relatives were charged in the case.
The organization had been charged with scheming to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records.
Trump himself has denied knowing of any company fraud.
Nobody will go to jail in the criminal case, but the Trump Organization is facing a $1.6 million dollar fine as a result of the verdict.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office had accused the firm of operating a tax evasion scheme for more than 15 years, asserting that knowledge of the plan reached up to the very top of the organization, countering the defense argument that its orchestrators acted only for their own benefit and not “on behalf of” the company.
The jury found the organizations guilty on all 17 charges after deliberating for one day, finding that the scheme apparently was designed to provide a very comfortable lifestyle for top execs of both firms including luxury automobiles, tuition at costly colleges for their children and exclusive apartments without them paying the corresponding taxes for those forms of “indirect” compensation.
One of the star witnesses in the case was Allen Weisselberg, who for years was the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer and who, after pleading guilty to 15 charges of tax evasion and other financial crimes in August, struck a deal with prosecutors for exchange for a lighter sentence in exchange for providing truthful personal testimony during the trial.
Weisselberg, as a prosecution witness, confirmed the existence of the tax evasion scheme and said that it benefited both him and the company, but he insisted during defense questioning that he acted in his own interest in running that scheme.
Shortly after the verdict was made known, the Trump Organization issued a public statement in which it lambasted the jury’s decision, saying: “The notion that a company could be held responsible for an employee’s actions, to benefit themselves, on their own personal tax returns is simply preposterous.”
Meanwhile, former President Trump has not yet publicly reacted to the verdict but some hours ago he said via his Truth Social social media site that the New York prosecutor’s office, despite the high levels of crime in the Big Apple, prefers to use its time and money to pursue a “witch hunt” at the behest of the Democratic administration in Washington “against Trump.”
“Disappointed with the verdict in Manhattan, but will appeal,” Trump wrote, adding: “This case was about Allen Weisselberg committing tax fraud on his personal tax returns, etc., with he and every witness repeatedly testifying that President Trump and the Trump Family knew nothing about his actions, which he admits were done solely for his own benefit, and with no benefit to the two companies.”
New York state Attorney General Letitia James is still investigating Trump himself for allegedly misleading financial institutions about the value of some of his properties and other assets, such as real estate holdings and golf courses.
In September, the New York AG announced that she was suing Trump and three of his adult children – Ivanka, Don. Jr and Eric – in civil court, seeking $250 million in damages.