Trump's legal woes mount as firm faces New York tax fraud trial

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Donald Trump’s business, the Trump Organisation, is facing a criminal trial in New York which begins today over allegations of tax fraud – specifically that it helped executives avoid paying income taxes by awarding “off the books” gifts.

Monday will see jury selection begin in the trial, the same case has already seen long time Trump associate and CFO of the business Allen Weisselberg plead guilty to 15 charges including grand larceny and tax fraud.

He also admitted concealing $1.76 million in income in an agreement with prosecutors that requires him to testify at this trial.

The Trump Organisation operates hotels, golf courses and other real estate around the world, it could face up to $1.6 million in fines for three tax fraud counts and six other counts. Likely more worrying for the company, it could find conducting business and operating its real estate more difficult if the charges are proved.

Donald Trump has not been charged in the case but faces other legal headaches including a federal criminal investigation into the removal of government documents from the White House when he left office last year.

The jury selection has kicked off Monday with each side’s lawyers able to question prospective jurors about their views on the former president who came to fame in the Big Apple decades before he ran for political office.

Prosecutors will argue that the company has been engaged in tax fraud for a 15 year period starting in 2005.

Lawyers for the Trump Organization have called the case a “selective prosecution” based on animosity by the prosecution toward Trump for his political views, although this argument was rejected by a judge.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his predecessor who began the investigation, Cyrus Vance, are Democrats.

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Two prosecutors who were leading the investigation quit in February with one claiming that Trump should face felony charges, however, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has indicated that he had doubts about doing so.

The criminal case is separate from the civil suit brought against Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organisation which accuses them of overstating the value of their assets and Trump’s net worth in order to get more favourable bank loans and better insurance coverage.

Trump has called both cases politically motivated, both are led by Democrats.

The trial comes just days after the former President was subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the January 6 riot – he has until November 4 to turn over documents related to the inquiry.

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The committee also aims to take one or more days of testimony from the former President.

The subpoena was the latest in what was a likely a bad week for Trump. A judge found that he had signed a false statement regarding 2020 election fraud and he was deposed for the defamation case brought against him by E. Jean Carroll, who accuses the former president of rape.

Additionally, last week, his ex-advisor and long time ally, Steve Bannon, was sentenced to four months in prison and a $6,500 fine for two counts of contempt of Congress.

Bannon received the charges for refusing to provide documents and testimony to the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot at the Capitol Building, the same committee the former President has been subpoenaed to attend.

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