A trial of the Trump Organization on allegations of a years-long scheme to evade taxes on high-dollar benefits for executives is ongoing, and in recent testimony, Donald Bender — an accountant at former longtime Trump accounting firm Mazars USA who has worked even on Trump’s personal taxes — revealed details that could suggest the company was intentionally concealing potentially condemning details.
An apparent intention to consistently conceal details crucial to appropriately establishing the tax liabilities associated with the disputed benefits could, of course, help show that criminal activity was intentionally committed, rather than issues arising from mere mistakes or differences of opinion. Bender has also worked on the personal taxes for Allen and Barry Weisselberg, both of whom in some way benefited from the challenged benefits, which included apartment space for Allen and tuition for Allen’s grandchildren (who were Barry’s kids) — and Bender indicated he was never informed while preparing these tax filings of the apartment space which Allen used for years. Directly asked whether he knew in the 2000s and 2010s that the Trump Org was covering Allen’s apartment, Bender answered no — and he also stated that if made aware of the arrangement he would have questioned continuing work with what sounds like either the Trump company or Allen (or potentially both).
“Bender the accountant testifies that he spoke to McConney 4x a week & did the personal taxes for Allen and Barry Weisselberg… but was never told that the Trump Org was paying for the CFO’s apartment rent,” reporter Jose Pagliery summarized of an earlier point in the proceedings. Since Bender has also worked on Trump’s own tax returns, he was in a prime position to provide relevant info with his testimony in court earlier this week. Bender did indicate that he was previously aware of the payments for Allen’s grandchildren’s tuition — and he also claimed to have originally warned those involved of the potential financial liabilities involved in the arrangement. He specifically alleged that he warned the payments would likely constitute (taxable) income for Barry. Ignoring a warning from a longtime accountant leaves the Trump company only further mired in potentially serious consequences — and those consequences could be coming soon, with the jury potentially starting deliberations this coming week.
The trial is criminal in nature, but since a company obviously can’t be jailed, it’s facing the possibility of potentially large financial penalties if found guilty. The company is also newly under the requirements of an outside monitor in connection to a civil lawsuit filed by New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who asked for the monitoring. The former judge picked for the role will have financial statements and asset transfers — among related corporate moves — under her purview moving forward.