A New York judge ordered the former US president Donald Trump’s real estate business on Friday to pay a $1.6 million fine after he found it guilty of a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities.
Explaining that the criminal case focused on charges that the Trump Organization paid top executives as if they were former contractors and had avoided reporting the income when paying for personal expenses, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass stressed that all of these corrupt practices were part of the executive compensation package of Trump Organisation.
With a dose of irony, Steinglass noted that this was certainly cheaper than paying those executives higher salaries.
Two affiliates of the Trump Organization were found guilty of 17 charges in December so this was the maximum sentence that the Manhattan criminal court’s Justice Juan Merchan could impose.
Calling the conviction part of a never-ending witch hunt since Trump announced his presidential candidacy, the Trump Organization said it would appeal the verdict.
As he looks to retake the White House in 2024, Trump denied that he knew the executives had evaded taxes and was not charged in the case though the conviction certainly undermines his claims of being a savvy businessman.
Commenting on the case after the sentencing, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg pointed out that they’ve managed to close an important chapter of their ongoing investigation into former president Trump and his businesses, announcing continuing on the next chapter.
Bragg, whose office brought the case and is still conducting a criminal probe into Trump’s business practices, noted that while corporations can’t serve jail time, sentencing like this reminds corporations and executives that they cannot defraud tax authorities and get away with it.
Earlier this week, the court sentenced to five months in jail Allen Weisselberg, former chief financial officer at the company who worked for Trump’s family for a half-century, for his role in the scheme.
Weisselberg, who is expected to serve his sentence at the notorious Rikers Island jail in New York, got a reduced sentence after giving evidence as New York’s witness against the Trump Organization.
According to Trump’s claims, his family received no economic gain whatsoever from Weisselberg’s wrongdoings.