Trump Directed Illegal Practices At His Company, Then Stopped Them When He Was President, Ex-CFO Says
Executives at The Trump Organization knew the off-the-books extras they were being given by their employer were illegal, and they came to an end once Donald Trump was elected president, the company’s former chief financial officer testified in court this week.
The company went through efforts to “clean up” the company once Trump took office, Allen Weisselberg told a jury Thursday during the second day of his testimony during the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial, Politico reported.
The company's defense attorneys argue that Weisselberg carried out the scheme alone. But the former CFO’s testimony alleges personal involvement of several other executives, including Trump himself, and includes illegal practices that Weisselberg said began before his own tenure at the company.
“Mr. Trump became president, and everybody was looking at our company from every different angle you could think of,” Weisselberg said.
The Trump Organization paid executives’ personal expenses, letting employees dodge income taxes and helping the company avoid payroll taxes, he testified, per Politico. The company also paid bonuses to executives via tax forms that claimed they were independent contractors rather than employees, he said.
Until Trump took office, Weisselberg said he had been receiving a free Upper West Side apartment and a Mercedes-Benz for himself and his wife, in addition to other expenses. Trump personally began paying for Weisselberg’s two grandchildren to attend Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, which charges roughly $100K per year.
Other executives also received similar perks, Politico reported. Company controller Jeffrey McConney, in charge of the paperwork, knew the setup was illegal, Weisselberg said. Former Chief Operating Officer Matthew Calamari also allegedly had his expenses paid by the company on a tax-free basis, and scored a Trump-owned Central Park South apartment for his son.
The practice of paying bonuses to employees including Weisselberg, Calamari and McConney via tax forms for self-employed workers began in the 1980s, before Weisselberg’s time at the Trump Organization, the former CFO said. In doing so, the company could avoid payroll tax and employees could obtain tax-deferred retirement accounts intended for self-employed workers.
Weisselberg is pleading guilty to 15 criminal counts, and will serve a five-month jail sentence in exchange for testifying under oath against the Trump Organization. Donald Trump has not been charged with a crime.
Weisselberg is still an employee of the company, and attended a birthday party at Trump Tower on the same day that his plea deal was finalized.