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Trump company's CFO to plead not guilty to criminal tax charges

3 minute read

NEW YORK, July 1 (Reuters) - Donald Trump's namesake company and its longtime chief financial officer are expected to fight criminal charges being brought on Thursday in a probe by Manhattan's district attorney.

The Trump Organization and the CFO, Allen Weisselberg, are expected to be arraigned later in the day in a New York state court in Manhattan, a person familiar with the matter has said, when a grand jury indictment is to be unsealed.

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for the company, is expected to enter a not guilty plea on its behalf, a person familiar with the matter said.

"Mr. Weisselberg intends to plead not guilty and he will fight these charges in court," Weisselberg's lawyers Mary Mulligan and Bryan Skarlatos said in a joint statement. Weisselberg surrendered to authorities in the early morning.

An indictment of the Trump Organization could undermine the company's relationships with banks and business partners, and complicate Trump's political future as the Republican contemplates running again for president in 2024.

Cyrus Vance, the district attorney, began his investigation nearly three years ago, and has been working in recent months with the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James on the still-ongoing probe. Vance and James are Democrats.

COMPANY SAYS 'THIS IS POLITICS'

In a statement, the Trump Organization said prosecutors were using Weisselberg, who has worked for the Trump family business for 48 years, as "a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former president."

The company also called Vance's case one that neither the Internal Revenue Service nor any other district attorney would ever bring.

"This is not justice; this is politics," the company said.

Trump is not expected to be charged this week, his lawyer Ronald Fischetti has said.

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Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg looks on as then-U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The former president has denied wrongdoing, and called the probe a "witch hunt" by politically-motivated prosecutors.

Thursday's charges are expected to focus on whether Weisselberg and other executives received perks and benefits such as rent-free apartments and leased cars, without reporting them properly on their tax returns, people familiar with the probe have said.

In a statement on Monday, Trump called prosecutors biased and said his company's actions were "in no way a crime."

The Trump Organization could face fines and other penalties if convicted.

PERKS, GIFTS

Charges could increase pressure on Weisselberg to cooperate with prosecutors, which he has resisted. That cooperation could become crucial to any future case against his longtime boss.

The Trump Organization operates hotels, golf courses, and resorts around the world.

Before entering the White House in January 2017, Trump put his company into a trust overseen by his adult sons and Weisselberg, who has maintained tight control over company finances. It is unclear what role Trump now has at the company.

Court filings, public records and subpoenaed documents show that Weisselberg and his son Barry have received perks and gifts potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including many benefits related to real estate.

The case could be charged as a scheme by the company to pay people off the books in order to hide assets over many years.

Vance has examined an array of potential wrongdoing, including whether Trump's company manipulated the value of its real estate to reduce its taxes and secure favorable loan terms.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld, Brendan Pierson and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Julia Harte, Joseph Tanfani and Jan Wolfe in Washington, D.C.; and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Peter Graff and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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