The Trump Organization ― a group of hundreds of business entities owned by former President Donald Trump ― and its chief financial officer were charged Thursday with engaging in a money-making scheme to defraud city, state and federal tax authorities.
The Manhattan district attorney’s charges against the company and its CFO Allen Weisselberg (who was led into the court in handcuffs) include scheme conspiracy, grand larceny, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records. Both parties pleaded not guilty on all charges.
Weisselberg has worked for the Trump family since the 1970s.
Weisselberg and the company are accused of defrauding tax authorities in order to heavily compensate certain beneficiaries at the company, including Weisselberg himself.
“The purpose of the scheme was to compensate Weisselberg and other Trump Organization executives in a manner that was ‘off the books’: the beneficiaries of the scheme received substantial portions of their income through indirect and disguised means, with compensation that was unreported or misreported by [the Trump Organization] to the tax authorities,” the indictment read.
“The scheme was intended to allow certain employees to substantially understate their compensation from the Trump Organization, 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,” it continued.
Trump himself was not indicted Thursday, but the charges leveled against his business could have far-reaching effects on the company. The New York Times notes the fallout from the indictment could affect his relationships with banks and business partners, as well as any future bid for the political office.
The former president told the publication the charges were a “terrible thing for our country,” adding that Weisselberg was a “very good man” who had been “treated horribly.”
New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has said Trump will remain a focus of prosecutors’ investigation, adding that the “work continues.”
The DA’s office has been investigating Trump’s business ― which includes real estate, hotels, golf courses and dozens of other ventures ― for the past two years for various financial misdeeds, including falsifying business records, insurance fraud and tax fraud.
News that Vance would soon be filing charges against the Trump Organization first broke Wednesday morning. A spokesperson for Trump declined to comment, though Trump released a statement earlier in the week denouncing Vance’s investigation and calling his office “rude, nasty, and totally biased.”
The New York State Attorney General’s Office is also investigating the Trump Organization for criminal charges and is working alongside the Manhattan DA. The office revealed the probe in May but offered no further details about what it entails.
Trump’s business, which his son Eric Trump is also involved in, has been mired in controversy going back decades, with lawsuits alleging that the Trump Organization refused to rent apartments to Black people and hasn’t paid contractors for various services. The business was also at the center of claims throughout Trump’s tenure as president that he was using the presidency to funnel federal money into his properties.
Barbara Res, who for years served as the vice president in charge of construction at the Trump Organization, said earlier this week that the ex-president was definitely aware of any financial improprieties at his company. “He is in this with both legs,” she told CNN.