Then-President-elect Donald Trump along with his son Donald, Jr., arrive for a press conference at Trump Tower in New York, as Allen Weisselberg (C), chief financial officer of The Trump, looks on, January 11, 2017.
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images
Lawyers for former President Donald Trump were warned this week by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office that prosecutors as soon as next week may criminally charge the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.
The New York Times and later NBC News reported that Trump’s lawyers were told that DA Cyrus Vance Jr. is considering charging Trump’s New York-based company and Weisselberg in connection with fringe benefits the CFO received from the company.
Vance could announce criminal charges as early as next week if he decides to seek an indictment, people with knowledge of the matter told the newspaper.
Trump’s lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, effectively confirmed the Times’ first report of possible criminal charges shortly after it was published online.
Prosecutors are known to be investigating whether taxes were paid on those benefits to Weisselberg and other executives at the Trump Organization for items that include apartments and school tuition.
Fischetti in a statement to NBC News said that “there are no charges that are going to be leveled against Mr. Trump himself.”
“The corporate office will plead not guilty and we will make an immediate motion to dismiss the case against the corporation,” Fischetti said. “Mr. Trump is outraged that they are still going after him by going after his company where he has loyal employees for decades.”
“It looks like they are going to come down with charges against the company and that is completely outrageous,” Fischetti said.
“I’ve been practicing for over 50 years and I’ve never seen a case like this where they would indict or charge an individual or a company on tax evasion for using a company car or company apartment and then tie it to the company that he is working for without any evidence that what he did benefited the company.”
Weisselberg has been eyed for months by Vance’s investigators, who more broadly are probing allegations that the Trump Organization illegally manipulated the stated value of real estate assets to receive more favorable terms on insurance and loans and to lower its tax liability.
Prosecutors were believed to be pressuring Weisselberg to cooperate with their broader probe of the company.
“They could not get Allen Weisselberg to cooperate and tell them what they wanted to hear and that’s why they are going forward with these charges,” Fischetti said.
“And they could not get him to cooperate because he would not say that Donald Trump had knowledge or any information that he may have been not deducting properly the use of cars or an apartment.”
Fischetti confirmed that he and other Trump lawyers met Thursday with senior prosecutors in Vance’s office in a bid to get them not to charge the company.
Mary Mulligan, Weisselberg’s lawyer, declined to comment to CNBC about the Times report.
Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance, also declined to comment.
CNBC has reached out to request comment from Trump and his company.
Trump has repeatedly called Vance’s investigation, and a related one by New York state Attorney General Letitia James, a “witch hunt.”
Vance is known to be using a special grand jury for his investigation of Trump.