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Trump CFO’s family tax records reviewed by New York authorities

Caleb Melby
Bloomberg

New York’s attorney general continues to gather information about President Donald Trump’s business, obtaining financial records this month from the family of Trump Organization’s CFO that could provide further insights into the company’s operations and tax strategies.

The office of Attorney General Letitia James is reviewing tax records associated with a son and ex-daughter-in-law of Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, according to a person familiar with the matter. James’s office is conducting a civil investigation into whether the Trump Organization falsely reported property values to secure loans or tax benefits, she has said.

Bloomberg News reported on Nov. 2 that members of the Weisselberg family, including Trump Organization manager Barry Weisselberg and his now ex-wife, Jennifer, had received perks including years of free rent in a company-owned building adjacent to Central Park and use of the company’s accountant for personal tax filings. The Bloomberg report was based, in part, on documents provided by Jennifer Weisselberg.

In this Jan. 11, 2017 file photo, Allen Weisselberg, center, stands between President-elect Donald Trump, left, and Donald Trump Jr., at a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.

Mary Mulligan, a lawyer for Allen Weisselberg, said that her client had done nothing wrong.

The attorney general’s office and Alan Garten, general counsel of the Trump Organization, declined to comment. Barry Weisselberg didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Many of the benefits could create tax liabilities for the Weisselbergs, the Trump Organization or both, according to legal experts.

For example, employers normally can’t take a gift exemption for things of value provided to employees, according to tax and compensation lawyers who reviewed the transactions for Bloomberg but didn’t want to comment publicly about Trump’s business. Also free rent would constitute taxable income for employees unless an exemption applies, they said. Barry and Jennifer Weisselberg’s tax returns for four of the years they lived on Central Park South don’t appear to account for the perk.

Allen Weisselberg, who managed finances for Trump as well as his father, Fred, is the company’s highest-ranking non-family employee and was appointed to help oversee the trust set up by the president while he’s in the White House.

Trump, who hasn’t conceded the Nov. 3 election as his team brings challenges in multiple states, is facing several major legal threats. Some legal experts anticipate that he’ll use his federal clemency power to help central figures from his campaign, administration or business – including a possible attempt to pardon himself.

That would help inoculate him from federal criminal investigations. But his pardon power wouldn’t extend to the civil probe conducted by James or a criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.