Trump Organization’s outside accountant testifies that he ‘would’ have had heart attacks’ if he’d been able to see the secret Christmas bonus list.


Left, former President Donald Trump and exterior of Trump Tower, where is the Trump Organization’s headquarters.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images. Nicolas Economou/Getty Images.
  • The Trump Org’s first defense witness is Donald Bender. Donald Bender, an outside accountant, is the first defense witness in the Trump Org tax-fraud trial.

  • Tuesday’s testimony by Mr. Hearst was that he would have had a heart attack if he saw how the company paid Xmas bonuses.

  • Trump signed piecemeal checks that gave bonuses to executives, which the DA calls a tax-dodge.

Long-standing outside accountant for the Trump Organization testified in its tax-fraud case On Tuesday, he testified that he would not have been surprised to see the annual “secret” Christmas bonus lists.

Donald Bender, who was responsible for the company’s taxes for 35 years, said Tuesday to a Manhattan jury that he would have a heart attack.

Jurors have heard that former President Donald Trump signed stacks upon stacks of bonus checks over many years. These were then stuffed into holiday cards of executives of favored companies.

Prosecutors claim that the yearly executive bonuses were part of a 15 year payroll tax avoidance scheme that reached to the top of company.

The bonuses should have been reported as taxable income on the company W-2s every year. Prosecutors have charged that they weren’t.

Instead, prosecutors claimed that executives received the bulk their annual bonuses in separate checks from a variety Trump Organization subsidiaries. It was as if they had worked the year before as contractors or freelancers for Wollman Rink and Mar-a-Lago as well as Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Prosecutors claimed that the company was able to save on withholding and write off the checks as subsidiary costs. The executives were able to claim the check as freelance income, which allowed them some of the money to be saved in tax-free accounts that were only available to the self employed.

According to documents, Trump Organization paid out $1.1 Million in executive bonuses and paid Allen Weisselberg a $300,000.

That $100,000 was properly paid, as compensation claimed on Weisselberg’s W-2 wage statement.

He received $75,000 in a Wollman-Rink check, as though the now-75-year old CFO had worked that year at the famous Central Park skating rink.

The $50,000 bonus was paid in checks to three different payors. This was just as if Weisselberg worked the previous years for Mar-a-Lago and Palm Beach golf clubs.

Weisselberg, who testified last week on the stand that these payments were in violation of tax reporting requirements, stated that they were.

Internally, careful records were kept. Some of the bonuses paid by companies were titled “The Trump Organization Christmas Bonanzas.”

Some of these records bear Trump’s initials. According to documents, he personally approved the total bonuses to be received by Weisselberg, company general counsel Jason Greenblatt and controller Jeffrey McConney.

But Trump’s initials are not on spreadsheets detailing what prosecutors say was the illegal part of the scheme — charts detailing which subsidiaries were paying the bonus checks.

Bender, who works for the Mazars accounting firm, testified Tuesday that he never saw these purported heart-attacks-on-a-chart, not until Manhattan prosecutors showed them to him in 2021.

He would have raised alarm if he had seen the charts and realized the scope of the scheme, he said to jurors under cross-examination from Susan Hoffinger (one of the lead prosecutors).

“I probably would’ve had a heart attack,” he stated, before apologizing and explaining that he meant he would have “very worried” and likely would have alerted Mazars.

The accounting firm Trump Organization and Trump Organization have been cut off An earlier report this year cited a history of financial “discrepancies”, at the company.

Bender’s testimony, which was a defense witness, could help the defense argue Trump was also kept in dark about the subsidiaries that paid executive bonuses as though it was outside compensation.

The trial is closed for the remainder of the week. The defense case and testimony of Bender could be concluded Monday. Closing arguments may be possible Tuesday.

Trump is not being named as a suspect in the five-week-old criminal case. However, his company could be subject to penalties of up to $1.6million for conspiracy, scheme defrauding, and lying in official records.

Check out the original article Business Insider

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