A key Trump Organization executive has surrendered to authorities ahead of expected charges against him and the former US president’s company.
Chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, 73, was seen walking into a Manhattan courthouse with his lawyer, with prosecutors expected to announce the first criminal indictment in a two-year investigation into Donald Trump‘s business practices.
They accuse the Trump Organization and Weisselberg of tax crimes related to fringe benefits for employees.
Mr Trump denies any wrongdoing and has called the investigation a “witch hunt” by politically-motivated prosecutors.
In a statement, the Trump Organization said: “Allen Weisselberg is a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather who has worked at the Trump Organization for 48 years.
“He is now being used by the Manhattan district attorney as a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former president. The district attorney is bringing a criminal prosecution involving employee benefits that neither the IRS [Internal Revenue Service] nor any other district attorney would ever think of bringing.
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“This is not justice; this is politics.”
It is understood the charges relate to allegations that Weisselberg and other executives were compensated with the likes of rent-free accommodation, leased cars and school fees, without proper reporting on tax returns.
The investigation into the Trump Organization is being jointly pursued by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr and New York attorney general Letitia James – both of whom are Democrats.
It is not expected the former president himself will be charged this week, although investigations into his company are continuing, his lawyer Ronald Fischetti said.
In the US, any benefit provided to an employee which is not essential to their work must be taxed as income.
James Repetti, a tax lawyer and professor at Boston College Law School, said: “The IRS routinely looks for abuse of fringe benefits when auditing closely held businesses.
“The temptation for the business is that it claims a tax deduction for the expense, while the recipient does not report it in income.”
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The Trump Organization overseas the operation of the former president’s empire, including properties, hotels, golf courses and marketing activities.
Before entering the White House, Mr Trump put the company in the control of his sons and Weisselberg.