Trump Organization fined $1.6 million for tax fraud, falsifying records

"This conviction ... was consequential, the first time ever for criminal conviction of former President Trump's companies, and indeed I would go so far as to say the first time ever for any former president certainly in my lifetime."

The Trump Organization was fined $1.6 million on Friday – the maximum that companies can be fined under New York law – after being convicted of 17 felonies last month, including tax fraud and falsifying business records.

Two entities under the Trump Organization umbrella, The Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. are both accused of running a decade-long tax fraud scheme, CNN reports.

Prosecutors were seeking the maximum possible fine for the Trump Organization, despite admitting that it would have "minimal impact" on the multi-billion dollar company

"We all know that these corporations cannot go to jail as Allen Weisselberg has," Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said, in reference to the Trump Organization's CFO who was sentenced earlier this week to five months in jail. "The only way to effectively deter such conduct is to make it as expensive as possible."

New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg described the fine as important but is calling for increased maximum fines in order to truly have an impact.

"This conviction ... was consequential, the first time ever for a criminal conviction of former President Trump's companies, and indeed I would go so far as to say the first time ever for any former president certainly in my lifetime," Bragg said on Friday outside the courtroom.

"I want to be very clear," he added, "we don’t think that is enough. Our laws in this state need to change in order to capture this type of decade-plus systemic, egregious fraud."

The two Trump entities have 14 days to pay the fine.

Despite the ruling having no major direct impact on the organization, its reputation could be impacted, including its ability to do business or obtain loans or contracts.

While Trump and his family were not officially charged, the former president's name was brought up often in connection to the untaxed benefits, with one prosecutor stating that Trump "explicitly sanctioned" tax fraud.

The feeling within the jury was that a "culture of fraud" was present throughout the organization, but they reminded themselves that Trump himself was not the focus of the trial, one of the jurors told CNN last month. 

"I think the consensus is that they like most likely, they know something like they don’t know every detail, but like there’s some negligence there," he said.

Weisselberg pleaded guilty last year to 15 felonies related to the organization's tax fraud scheme, cutting a deal for a reduced sentence if he agreed to testify against the company. 

He was sentenced on Tuesday, before which time he was still on paid company leave, bringing in over $1 million a year. He allegedly received a "generous" severance package. 

The Manhattan district attorney's office has said that they are continuing to investigate the company's business practices, and are certain there is more to come.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and continues to claim the lawsuit is politically motivated.

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