- Manhattan prosecutors appear keenly interested in the process for evaluating Trump Organization properties.
- An employee among the most knowledgeable about the company’s finances was reportedly brought before a special grand jury.
- Here’s a look at who can potentially guide prosecutors through the company’s complex finances.
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As the Manhattan District Attorney’s office investigates the Trump Organization, there are several employees they may want to haul in front of a special grand jury to walk them through the company’s byzantine finances.
Earlier in June, ABC News reported that Jeff McConney, the company’s controller, testified for grand jurors. McConney is one of several Trump Organization employees among the most knowledgeable about the company’s finances. According to the Daily Beast and a 2007 interview with Trump in Worth magazine, he’s one of four people — in addition to Trump — who’ve had a hand in determining how the company’s assets are valued.
Prosecutors appear to be keenly interested in the process for evaluating Trump Organization properties. Court filings suggest they seeks to determine whether the company manipulated property values to secure more favorable tax and loan benefits.
Legal experts say if the company showed one set of books for tax purposes and another for insurance and loan terms, that could lead to tax, wire, bank, and insurance fraud charges. The New York Attorney General’s office is conducting a similar investigation into the Trump Organization’s finances, and is now working directly with the Manhattan DA.
Manhattan prosecutors have already subpoenaed reams of tax documents from the Trump Organization and its accountants at Mazars, going twice to the Supreme Court to do so. While the DA’s office has hired forensic accountants at FTI Consulting to pore over the documentation, former prosecutors say it will be helpful to have an insider at the Trump Organization to lay out for investigators — and jurors — just how the tax forms were prepared. The Trump Organization’s decades-long financial history includes numerous properties, franchise deals, and bankruptcies.
The special grand jury is expected to run through the fall. District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is widely expected to make charging decisions before he retires at the end of the year, but former prosecutors caution that the jury could end up simply charging the Trump Organization or particular executives, and may not charge Trump himself.
Here’s a look at who could potentially walk prosecutors through the company’s complex finances.
Aside from Donald Trump himself, no one else knows more about the Trump Organization’s finances than its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. He has worked for the Trump family for more than 40 years, both as the family’s personal bookkeeper and the company CFO.
Prosecutors have appeared to go to great lengths to seek his cooperation. They are examining the finances of his son Barry Weisselberg, who is also a Trump Organization employee, and they subpoenaed his grandchildrens’ school where he reportedly paid tuition.
His former daughter-in-law, Jennifer Weisselberg, already has been cooperating with prosecutors for months.
McConney has already testified for the grand jury, as ABC News first reported. As the Trump Organization’s controller, he functions as Weisselberg’s second-in-command.
But he may not willingly cooperate with prosecutors. The Daily Beast characterized him as “a loyal footsoldier” for Trump who “despises the left,” and even wore Trump-branded neckties.
McConney has worked at the Trump Organization since 1987, according to his LinkedIn page. Like many other longtime employees of the company, his son also worked there, as its social media director. Justin McConney is credited with teaching Trump how to use Twitter, an experience he compared to “the moment in ‘Jurassic Park’ when Dr. Grant realized that velociraptors could open doors. I was like, ‘Oh, no.'”
Eric Sacher worked as an assistant controller under McConney from 1990 until 2008, according to his LinkedIn profile. In a 2007 interview with Worth magazine, Trump identified Sacher as someone who works “as a team” with McConney and Weisselberg in handling the company’s financial strategies.
Though he hasn’t worked for the Trump Organization in more than a decade, prosecutors may find his deep knowledge of the company helpful for their investigation.
Donald Bender has for decades been a partner at Mazars, the tax and auditing firm employed by the Trump Organization to help handle its taxes, and specializes in real estate, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The Daily Beast reported that Bender has been Trump’s “go-to taxman,” and would leave the room so that Trump and Weisselberg could finalize tax documentation as they saw fit.
The subpoenas prosecutors have secured likely allowed them to obtain communications between the Trump Organization and Mazars employees like Bender, experts say, as employees discussed how to value the company’s properties and other assets to pay as little as possible in taxes.