Trump finance chief loses titles and roles after impeachment | New York News
By BERNARD CONDON, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The decision by Donald Trump’s company to strip its chief financial officer of several senior positions less than two weeks after his criminal indictment suggests it faces a tricky new business environment as it seeks to reassure lenders and other business partners.
Allen Weisselberg, Trump’s most important man in decades, has lost positions at companies overseeing a Scottish golf course, payroll operations and other businesses under the Trump organization, government records show. . He retains his role as Chief Financial Officer of the parent company.
The moves weren’t unexpected, but they mark a possible tricky step in Trump’s legal fight with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and his efforts to protect his business. Companies often kick out indicted top executives to restore trust so they can continue to borrow and cut deals.
“Maybe it’s part of them trying to look good to the outside world,” said Daniel R. Alonso, former chief assistant district attorney for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. “They have something to say when their business partners ask, ‘We saw those accusations. What does this mean for your loan, your permits, your commercial contracts? »
The decision to keep Weisselberg as CFO suggests the company is loath to forcefully distance itself, another former Manhattan prosecutor said, perhaps because Weisselberg is so well-liked given his deep experience, but can -be also out of fear that he might start cooperating with the district. attorney in his broader investigation into the Trump Organization.
“They seem to be threading a needle,” said Daniel Horwitz, a white-collar defense attorney at McLaughlin and Stern. “They want to keep him close so he doesn’t roll over.”
The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.
Weisselberg was removed from his position as director of Trump International Golf Club Scotland Limited, a company linked to a Trump golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland, according to a British government record. He was also removed from several companies overseeing Trump’s holdings in Florida, according to state government documents, including as director of Trump Payroll Corp. and an entity related to a Jupiter golf course.
The lost positions were reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
In the July 1 indictment, the Manhattan District Attorney also charged the Trump Organization with fraud, alleging it helped Weisselberg deceive tax authorities by funneling more than $1.7 million into non-book benefits and bonuses. These included payments for Mercedes cars, private school tuition for her grandchildren, apartment rent and apartment furnishings. Other unnamed employees also profited from the alleged scheme, which prosecutors called “swift and audacious.”
Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have both pleaded not guilty.
The indictment came at a time when the company’s hotels and resorts were already reeling from coronavirus closures and a backlash from the bloody storming of the US Capitol on January 6 which, according to Trump’s critics, was instigated by the former president. Several business partners severed ties with the Trump Organization soon after the insurgency, including real estate brokers and lenders.
Given all the success the company has had lately, some wonder if Weisselberg could lose more of his positions, perhaps even his CFO title.
Former federal prosecutor Daniel Zelenko notes that companies have many ways to satisfy former employees, including offering generous severance packages and other perks and agreeing to pay legal fees.
“It may be just a first part and they will remove it from the organization,” said Zelenko, a partner at law firm Crowell & Moring. “That a financial director is indicted complicates matters. This indictment has real business consequences.”
Lawyers for the Trump Organization accused the district attorney of using Weisselberg as “a pawn in a scorched-earth attempt to harm the former president.” He said the district attorney’s office and the IRS have never brought criminal charges against a company for employee benefits.
For his part, Trump described Weisselberg’s tax measures as standard business practice and in no way a crime. Shortly after the indictment, he issued a statement lambasting what he called a “political witch hunt by radical left-wing Democrats.” Trump was not charged in the indictment.
This story has been corrected to show the former federal prosecutor’s last name is Zelenko, not Zalenko.
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