NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s company was fined $1.6 million Friday as punishment for a fraud in which the former president’s top executives dodged personal income taxes on lavish job bonuses, dealing a symbolic blow. and hardly serious for a company that boasts billions of dollars in assets.
A fine was the only penalty a judge could impose on the Trump Organization after it was found guilty last month of 17 tax offenses, including conspiracy and falsifying accounting records.RELATED
The amount imposed by Judge Juan Manuel Merchan was the maximum allowed by law, equivalent to double the taxes that a small group of executives avoided on benefits that included free rental apartments in Trump buildings, luxury cars and license plates in Private schools.
Merchan gave the Trump Organization 14 days to pay.
Trump himself was not prosecuted and denied any knowledge of his executives illegally evading taxes. In a statement issued after the sentencing, the Trump Organization said he did nothing improper and would appeal.
“These politically motivated prosecutors will stop at nothing to stop President Trump and continue the endless witch hunt that began the day he announced his presidency.”
Neither the former president nor his sons, who helped run and promote the Trump Organization, were in the courtroom for the sentencing hearing.
While the fine — less than the cost of a Trump Tower apartment — is not large enough to affect the company’s operations or its future, the guilty plea was a black mark on the Republican’s reputation as a man. business savvy as he mounts a campaign to take back the White House.
Outside the courtroom, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, stated that he wished the law had allowed for a more severe penalty. “I want to be very clear: we don’t think that’s enough,” he said. “Our laws in this state must change to capture this type of egregious and systemic fraud of more than a decade.”
Other than the company, only one executive was charged in the case: former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty last summer to tax evasion for $1.7 million in compensation.
He was sentenced Tuesday to five months in prison.
The criminal case involved financial practices and payment arrangements that the company suspended after Trump was elected president in 2016.
During his years as the company’s top fund manager, Weisselberg had been given a free apartment in a Trump-branded building in Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River. He and his wife were driving Mercedes-Benz cars, rented by the company. When his grandchildren went to an exclusive private school, Trump paid their tuition.
A handful of other executives received similar benefits.
When called to testify against the Trump Organization at trial, Weisselberg testified that he did not pay taxes on that compensation, and that he and a company vice president colluded to hide the benefits, causing the company to issue falsified W-2 forms.
Michael Sisak is at: twitter.com/mikesisak