Jurors deliberate in Trump Organisation trial

Case centres on whether former president Donald Trump's company helped executives to dodge taxes

The Trump Organisation is accused of helping executives avoid paying taxes on perks. EPA
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Jurors in the Trump Organisation's criminal tax fraud trial will deliberate for a second day on Tuesday on charges that former president Donald Trump's company helped executives to avoid paying personal income taxes on perks such as Manhattan apartments and luxury cars.

The jury deliberated for about four hours on Monday after a month-long trial that featured testimony from seven witnesses.

They included long-time Trump Organisation finance chief Allen Weisselberg and senior vice president and controller Jeffrey McConney.

An outside accountant who spent years preparing tax returns for Mr Trump and the company also testified.

About 40 minutes into deliberations, jurors sent a note asking the judge to reread the elements of one of the charges, which was conspiracy to defraud in the fourth degree. Judge Juan Manuel Merchan obliged.

Prosecutors charged the Trump Organisation in the form of two subsidiaries, Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation. Trump Corporation is charged with nine counts and Trump Payroll Corporation eight.

Jurors must decide if Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to evading taxes, was a “high managerial agent” acting on the company’s behalf, as prosecutors allege, or if he was acting in his own interest, as Trump Organisation lawyers contend.

They must also determine if he intended to benefit the company’s bottom line, not just his own.

Weisselberg testified against the company in exchange for a promised five-month jail sentence. Other executives were also accused of avoiding taxes on company perks, but no one else was charged.

Trump Organisation lawyers say Weisselberg acted without the knowledge of Mr Trump or his family. The company denies wrongdoing.

Mr Trump is not charged. The Trump Organisation case is the only trial to arise from the Manhattan district attorney’s office’s three-year investigation of him and his business practices.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg has said that an investigation of Mr Trump is “active and ongoing", and that no decision has been made on whether to charge him. No former president has ever been charged with a crime.

New York's Attorney General, Letitia James, in September announced she was suing Mr Trump and several of his children for business fraud.

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Updated: December 05, 2022, 10:48 PM