An accountant who handled tax returns for some Trump Organization executives told the jury that Former US President Donald Trump reported operating losses of $900 million over two years.
Donald Bender of Mazars USA LLP, who prepared Trump’s tax returns for years, was the first defense witness in the tax fraud trial of two of the former president’s companies, Trump Payroll Corp and Trump Corp.
As the trial entered its fourth week in state court in Manhattan, prosecutor Susan Hofinger asked Bender during cross-examination if he remembered Trump reporting losses in some years.
“Do you remember in 2010 Donald Trump incurred nearly $200 million in losses?” she said, to which Bender’s answer was: “Yes.”
In her questioning, she continued, “In 2009, did Donald Trump incur nearly $700 million in losses?”
The witness replied: “That seems to be true.”
The New York Times previously reported that Trump had incurred business losses, but Bender’s testimony was the first public confirmation from a professional who watched or helped prepare Trump’s tax returns.
When the plaintiff asked witness Binder if he prepared tax returns for Donald Trump for free, he shrugged and shook his head, saying, “No.”
He added, “The return was great, really great,” and pointed with his hand above his head, “such a height,” according to “Bloomberg,” and viewed by “Al Arabiya.net.”
Hofinger showed Bender a series of spreadsheets maintained by Trump companies that showed more than $1 million in annual bonuses were paid from various Trump-owned entities to executives such as Allen Weisselberg, Trump’s chief financial officer, claiming to be independent contractors.
Bender said the first time he saw those records was when prosecutors showed them to him last year.
When the plaintiff asked Binder how he would have reacted if these papers had been shown to him at the time of their preparation, he said, “I might have had a heart attack… I would be very worried, because they were underestimating their income by these amounts.”
In her questioning, she continued, “What would you have done if you had known about these spreadsheets or had been provided with them?”
Bender replied, “I was going to have a serious conversation with the client.”
Defense attorneys sought to highlight that Bender, who worked as the company’s outside accountant for 35 years, failed to protect the companies from tax fraud from Weisselberg.
But during her questioning, Hofinger tried to show that the accountant had been deceived by Weisselberg as well, and indicated that the financial director had received a rent-paid apartment as well as luxury cars.
“We did our due diligence,” Bender said. “I wasn’t blindly accepting reports. When I saw the financial reports were adequate, we expected him to live up to the agreement and be honest.”
Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to the tax fraud charges, testified for the prosecution earlier in the trial.
He also told the jury he hoped for a more lenient sentence of just 100 days in jail instead of the maximum 15 years in prison.