A longtime outside accountant for the Trump Organization testified recently before a New York grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump's financial practices, and Trump's former Deutsche Bank banker, Rosemary Vrablic, has been interviewed by prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s office, The Washington Post and The New York Times report, citing people familiar with Vance's Trump investigation.
Donald Bender, a Mazars USA accountant who has handled Trump's finances for decades, was automatically granted immunity from prosecution by appearing before Vance's grand jury, the Post reports. "The appearances by Bender and Vrablic suggest prosecutors are seeking information about Trump's finances from a small circle of outside partners who handled details of Trump's taxes and real estate deals. Bender and Vrablic were never Trump's employees, but they knew more about his company's inner workings than many employees did."
Vance and New York Attorney General Leticia James (D) are running parallel investigations of Trump's finances. The James inquiry is civil, meaning it could end in a lawsuit, and has already included depositions of former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, Eric Trump, and other Trump Organization employees. James also intends to depose Trump himself in January. Vance's investigation, aided by James, is criminal, and has already charged Weisselberg with felony tax fraud. Vance is leaving office in January, to be replaced by Alvin Bragg (D).
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Both investigations are looking into whether Trump or his organization committed fraud by intentionally overvaluing assets and excluding liabilities to get bank loans and publicly inflate Trump's wealth while claiming a fraction of that value to tax authorities. "If Vance or Bragg ever seeks to file charges against Trump himself, the burden of proof will be high," the Post notes. "They would need to do more than simply prove the Trump Organization's numbers were wrong."
Trump's legal team will likely point to disclaimers on the "statements of personal financial condition" Bender has prepared for Trump noting that Mazars has "not audited or reviewed" the information provided by Trump and is "aware of departures from accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America," the Times notes. Armed with those caveats, "Trump's lawyers would most likely argue that no one, let alone sophisticated lenders, should have taken his valuations at face value."
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