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Trump accountant would’ve had a ‘coronary heart assault’ over fraud

The Trump Group’s longtime tax accountant instructed a Manhattan jury Tuesday that had he totally understood how the corporate paid its executives, he would’ve had a coronary heart assault.

Donald Bender, a companion at Mazars USA LLP, was the primary witness to testify for the protection on the Manhattan district lawyer’s tax fraud trial in opposition to the Trump Group. The previous president has blamed Bender for not catching the malfeasance.

Jurors have heard how the corporate’s convicted Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, 75, and different full-time executives obtained hundreds of thousands in yearly bonuses, partially as unbiased contractors, from totally different Trump-owned entities — on prime of their sizable salaries. By paying its staff as freelancers, the corporate didn’t should pay payroll taxes.

Bender mentioned Weisselberg gave him the misunderstanding he did professional work for among the entities as an unbiased contractor. The accountant testified that he didn’t know Trump’s firm was paying its CFO’s hire, utilities, and parking storage charges as a part of his compensation from 2005 to 2017 — nor that it paid him hundreds in money for Christmas ideas for his doorman and furnishings for his Florida dwelling. Weisselberg didn’t pay taxes on any of it.

Assistant District Legal professional Susan Hoffinger requested Bender how he was positive he’d by no means seen spreadsheets detailing how the corporate paid Weisselberg and different executives tens of hundreds of {dollars} in additional compensation.

“As a result of I in all probability would’ve had a coronary heart assault,” Bender instructed Hoffinger on cross-examination.

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Bender ready the Trump Group’s taxes for about 35 years earlier than his agency cut ties with the business in 2021 as a result of it might now not depend on the corporate statements of economic situation. The tax preparer additionally filed Trump’s taxes from 2011 to 2018 and dealt with Weisselberg’s and his son’s taxes for a number of years.

“There have been another individuals I could have completed favors for,” mentioned Bender. “Trump’s bodyguard for quite a few years, Trump’s bodyguard’s son.”

Former President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla.

Bender’s testimony that Trump reported nearly $200 million in losses in 2010 and $700 million in 2009 marked the primary time these numbers have been confirmed publicly since a September 2020 exposé within the New York Instances.

The Trump Group, a holding firm that manages round 500 Trump-owned entities, and its subsidiary Trump Payroll Company have pleaded not responsible to legal tax fraud, falsification of enterprise information, conspiracy, and different associated costs. They face about $1.7 million in fines if convicted — a fraction of what Trump can pay in attorneys’ charges.

The case is among the many intensifying legal battles difficult the previous president as he mounts a 3rd presidential run.

Hoffinger requested Bender what he would’ve completed had he identified the corporate failed to incorporate private bills on Weisselberg’s annual wage assertion.

“We’d have had a severe dialog about persevering with with the shopper,” he mentioned.

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