NEW YORK (AP) – Donald Trump’s firm decision to strip its chief CFO of several senior positions less than two weeks after her criminal indictment suggests it faces a delicate new business environment as it seeks to reassure lenders and other business partners.
Allen Weisselberg, the number one for Trump for decades, has lost positions at companies overseeing a Scottish golf course, payroll operations and other businesses under the Trump Organization, government records show. He retains his role of financial director of the parent company.
The measures were not unexpected, but they mark a possible delicate step in Trump’s legal fight with the Manhattan district attorney’s office and his efforts to protect his business. Companies will often push indicted top executives to restore trust so they can continue to borrow and close deals.
“Maybe that’s one of them trying to look good to the outside world,” said Daniel R. Alonso, former deputy chief attorney with the Manhattan district attorney’s office. “They have something to say when their business partners ask them, ‘We have seen these accusations. What does this mean for your loan, your permits, your business contracts? “
The decision to keep Weisselberg as CFO suggests the company is loath to forcefully distance itself, another former Manhattan attorney said, perhaps because Weisselberg is so well-liked given his deep experience, but also perhaps out of fear that he might begin to cooperate with the district. lawyer in his larger investigation into the Trump Organization.
“They seem to be threading a needle,” said Daniel Horwitz, white-collar defense attorney at McLaughlin and Stern. “They want to keep him close so he doesn’t turn around.”
The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.
Weisselberg has been removed from his post as director of Trump International Golf Club Scotland Limited, a company linked to a Trump golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland, according to a UK government record. He was also fired from several companies overseeing Trump’s Florida holdings, state government documents show, most notably as a director of Trump Payroll Corp. and an entity related to a Jupiter golf course.
The lost positions had previously been reported by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
In the July 1 indictment, the Manhattan district attorney also charged the Trump Organization with fraud, alleging that it helped Weisselberg deceive tax authorities by funneling more than $ 1.7 million worth of tax. unofficial benefits and bonuses. These included payments for Mercedes cars, her grandchildren’s school fees, apartment rent, and apartment furnishings. Other anonymous employees also benefited from the alleged scheme, which prosecutors called “comprehensive and bold.”
Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have both pleaded not guilty.
The indictment came at a time when the company’s hotels and resorts were already reeling from coronavirus shutdowns and a backlash from the bloody storming of the United States Capitol on January 6 which, according to Trump’s critics, was instigated by the former president. Several business partners severed ties with the Trump Organization soon after the insurgency, including real estate brokers and lenders.
Given all of the company’s successes in recent times, some are wondering if Weisselberg could lose more of his jobs, possibly even his CFO title.
Former federal prosecutor Daniel Zelenko notes that companies have many ways to keep former employees happy, including offering generous severance packages and other perks and agreeing to pay legal fees.
“It might just be a first party and they’ll take it out of the organization,” said Zelenko, a partner at the Crowell & Moring law firm. “For a CFO to be indicted, it complicates things. This indictment has real commercial consequences.
Lawyers for the Trump Organization accused the district attorney of using Weisselberg as “a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former president.” He said the district attorney’s office and the IRS had never brought criminal charges against a company for employee benefits.
For his part, Trump described Weisselberg’s tax measures as standard business practice and by no means a crime. Shortly after the indictment, he issued a statement denouncing what he called a “political witch hunt by the radical left Democrats”. Trump was not charged in the indictment.
This story has been corrected to show that the last name of the former federal prosecutor is Zelenko, not Zalenko.