Trump Organization is fined $1.6 million for tax fraud

Ex-president’s company paid execs undeclared compensation in kind for 15 years. Only one executive was charged: ex-CFO Allen Weisselberg, who got five months

Donald Trump
Donald Trump, leaving Trump Tower in New York, in an image from last August.Julia Nikhinson (AP)

Donald Trump’s company, The Trump Organization, was fined $1.6 million on Friday as punishment for a scheme in which the former US president’s top executives dodged personal income taxes on lavish job perks. The fine is a symbolic, hardly crippling blow for an enterprise boasting billions of dollars in assets.

A fine was the only penalty a judge could impose on the Trump Organization over its conviction last month for 17 tax crimes, including conspiracy and falsifying business records.

The amount imposed by Judge Juan Manuel Merchan was the maximum allowed by law, an amount equal to double the taxes that a small group of executives avoided on benefits, including rent-free apartments in Trump buildings, luxury cars and private school tuition.

Trump himself was not on trial and denied any knowledge of his executives evading taxes illegally.

The Trump Organization was charged through its subsidiaries Trump Corp., which was fined $810,000; and Trump Payroll Corp., which was fined $800,000.

All of these corrupt practices were part of the Trump Organization executive compensation package, and it was certainly cheaper than paying higher salaries to those executives
Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass

In a statement released after sentencing, the Trump Organization said it did nothing wrong and would appeal the verdict.

“New York has become the crime and murder capital of the world, yet these politically motivated prosecutors will stop at nothing to get President Trump and continue the neverending witch-hunt which began the day he announced his presidency,” the statement said.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said the fines constitute “a fraction of the revenue” of the Trump Organization and that the scheme was “far-reaching and brazen.”

“All of these corrupt practices were part of the Trump Organization executive compensation package, and it was certainly cheaper than paying higher salaries to those executives,” he said.

Besides the company, only one executive was charged in the case: former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, 75, who pleaded guilty last summer to evading taxes on $1.7 million in compensation. He was sentenced Tuesday to five months in jail.

With Weisselberg’s collaboration, and after more than three years of investigation, the company was found guilty by a jury on December 6 for creating a scheme that was in place for a period of about 15 years. Weisselberg himself was able to use a free home in Manhattan, as well as enjoying a high-end car rental, furniture and even private school tuition for his grandchildren’s educational expenses without declaring it to the IRS.

Trump has announced his plans to run for president in 2024, but he still has other major court cases pending. Among them, the one relating to the classified documents he took from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago mansion in Palm Beach (Florida) and refused to hand over. And there is also the probe into his role in the attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden when the latter won the election in 2020. The House committee that investigated the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 has recommended that Trump be indicted on several charges related to that event.

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