“Mundane documents” land first significant legal blow on Trump empire

Two of former President Donald Trump’s businesses have been found guilty on 17 criminal counts stemming from a 15-year tax fraud scheme following a trial that began more than one month ago.

According to prosecutors, the two Trump Organization companies, called the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation, concealed compensation to senior executives, including apartments, cars, and private school tuition from tax authorities.

Although Mr Trump was not personally on trial, prosecutors in the case insisted he was fully aware of the long-running scheme, in which executives appear to have been enriched by off-the-books perks to make up for lower salaries, reducing the company’s tax liabilities.

The case involved testimony by Allen Weisselberg, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the former President’s businesses, who agreed to testify against the Trump Organization as part of a deal with prosecutors. However, he did not implicate Mr Trump in any of the offences.

Although the tax fraud was found to have taken place, prosecutors failed to extract concessions from Mr Weisselberg that Mr Trump had any knowledge of what was going on.

However, his determination to take the blame did not convince the jury, who were undoubtedly swayed by the evidence, specifically a memo Mr Trump initialled, which authorised a pay cut for another executive for the exact amount of his perk, rent paid by the company.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “There is a great deal of interest in the affairs of Mr Trump given his form position as American President.

“Investigators appear to have trawled over the Trump Organization’s subsidiaries and their accounts to reveal this tax fraud but securing testimony from an executive seems to have been a turning point in the case.

“While written evidence or data is extremely important, the evidence of interviews with key players is also vital.

The interplay between politics and allegations of fraud has never been more topical both with regard to the allegations faced by those connected to Former President Trump and in relation to allegations about President Biden’s soon Hunter.

Even in the UK, allegations about PPE procurement contracts have become highly politicised and will no doubt in due course require input from forensic accountants to follow the money trails.”

Source(s): FT

Posted in The Forensic Blog.