Trump Organisation to pay $1.6m for tax fraud

Former president's real estate company convicted of 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities

Former president Donald Trump's real estate company must pay the maximum penalty following the fraud conviction. EPA
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Former US president Donald Trump's real estate business was ordered by a New York judge on Friday to pay a $1.6 million fine after it was convicted of a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities.

It was the maximum sentence that Justice Juan Merchan of the Manhattan criminal court could impose after two affiliates of the Trump Organisation were found guilty of 17 charges in December.

Mr Trump was not charged in the case and denied that he knew the executives had evaded taxes.

The conviction undermines the former Apprentice star's claims of being a savvy businessman as he looks to retake the White House in 2024.

The Trump Organisation said it would appeal the verdict and that the conviction was part of a “never-ending witch hunt” since Mr Trump announced his presidential candidacy, the Associated Press reported.

The case focused on criminal charges that the Trump Organisation had paid personal expenses without reporting the income, and paid top executives as if they were former contractors.

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

Allen Weisselberg, former chief financial officer at the company, was sentenced to five months in jail earlier this week for his role in the scheme after giving evidence as New York's witness against the Trump Organisation.

He was expected to serve his sentence at the notorious Rikers Island jail in New York.

Mr Trump has said previously that his family received “no economic gain” from Weisselberg.

The case was one of many court headaches plaguing Mr Trump since he left the White House in 2021. He is currently the centre of an investigation into his potential mishandling of classified documents, and was referred to the Justice Department over his role in the January 6 insurrection.

The Trump Organisation — including Mr Trump and his family — faces a separate fraud investigation brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

A trial date is scheduled for October 2, 2023.

His legal woes do not end there. A special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, recently concluded an investigation of whether Mr Trump and his allies violated state law when they spread misinformation of alleged election fraud and pressured Georgia officials to initiate efforts that would change the results of the presidential election. Charges may be pending.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: January 13, 2023, 4:14 PM
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