Trump accountant testified before New York grand jury in criminal investigation, sources say

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The Washington Post reported earlier Tuesday that the accountant, Donald Bender of accounting firm Mazers USA, testified again more recently during a brief appearance before the panel, according to two people familiar with the investigation, but may return for further testimony at the future. Bender helped prepare the financial statements that the Trump Organization presented to lenders, as well as managing large amounts of Trump’s financial information.

Prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office also recently met with current and former Deutsche Bank employees, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. These employees were questioned about representations that Trump Organization officials have made to the bank, which has loaned the company hundreds of millions of dollars over the years.

According to the Post, one such former employee was Rosemary Vrablic, Trump’s top financial adviser at the German lender. Prosecutors questioned Vrablic in their interview, which was not before a grand jury, about Trump’s role in dealings with the bank, a person told the newspaper.

Vrablic’s attorney did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Reported appearances by Bender and Vrablic suggest prosecutors have focused on Trump’s outside financial advisers as they work to gather information about his business dealings. Investigators are investigating whether the Trump Organization provided inaccurate financial statements about property values ​​when seeking financing and tax appraisals, CNN reported.

A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to comment to CNN. A representative of the Trump Organization could not be reached for comment, but the organization previously called the investigation a politically motivated witch hunt.

Mazars told CNN in a statement that “due to the professional obligations of our industry, Mazars cannot discuss any client, current or former, the status of our relationships or the nature of our services in any forum. public without the client’s consent or as required by law. We are committed to fulfilling all of our professional and legal obligations.”

Vance’s investigation, which began in earnest in August 2019, includes allegations by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen that the Trump Organization inflated assets when seeking loans and deflated them when to pay taxes. CNN previously reported that investigators interviewed Cohen at least eight times and that investigators were looking at numerous loans the Trump Organization had taken out, including those from Deutsche Bank and Ladder Capital.

Prosecutors are also sifting through millions of pages of documents, including Trump’s tax returns, which they obtained in February after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Trump’s attempt to stop a subpoena in court. his long-time accounting firm.

The investigation focuses on Trump Tower, the family estate known as Seven Springs, his Chicago hotel and condo tower.

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Prosecutors moved the investigation to informal compensation this spring, and Bender appeared before the grand jury around that time, the people said. Prosecutors announced an indictment against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, on tax evasion charges related to off-the-books compensation in July. The company and Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty.

The investigation focused on the accuracy of financial statements and representations over the past few months, sources said.

Trump has previously said in depositions in civil inquests that Weisselberg helped prepare the financial statements. At the same time, documents and depositions appear to show that while Trump claimed he left those valuation decisions to someone else, he was also deeply involved in running his business.
Cohen first made his allegations public during testimony before Congress. At the time, he released several financial statements, including one from 2012. In that statement, which CNN has reviewed, Trump’s accounting firm notes that “Donald J Trump is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the statements. financial,” adding that they did. not audited the statement and identified several deviations from generally accepted accounting principles. The statement also notes that users “should recognize that they may draw different conclusions about Donald J Trump’s financial condition if they had access to a revised statement of financial position” without the accounting rule waivers.

Lenders like Deutsche Bank are sophisticated and often do their own analysis.

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