Trump Organization, CFO expected to be charged Thursday -WSJ

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Former U.S. President Donald Trump's namesake company and its chief financial officer are expected to be charged on Thursday with tax-related crimes by Manhattan's district attorney, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. 

  Charges by District Attorney Cyrus Vance have been expected to focus on whether Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and other officials received perks and benefits such as rent-free apartments and leased cars without reporting them properly on their tax returns, people familiar with the probe have said. 

  Mary Mulligan, a lawyer for Weisselberg, declined to comment on possible charges. Vance's office also declined to comment. Lawyers for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Journal attributed the timing of the charges to people familiar with the matter. 

  Trump, a Republican, was not expected to be charged himself, according to people involved in the case. 

  In a statement on Monday, Trump called prosecutors biased and said his company's actions were "in no way a crime." Trump's lawyer Ronald Fischetti said on Monday that Vance's case is without merit, and he had never in the last half a century seen the district attorney's office target a company over fringe benefits. 

  An indictment could imperil the Trump Organization by causing banks and business partners to stop doing business with it, and result in fines and other penalties if the company were found guilty. 

  Charges also could increase pressure on Weisselberg to cooperate with prosecutors, which he has resisted. Weisselberg is a close Trump confidant, making his cooperation potentially crucial to any future case against Trump himself. 

  Court filings, public records and subpoenaed documents have shown that Weisselberg and his son Barry have received perks and gifts potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including many benefits related to real estate. 

  More charges could be filed against the Trump Organization or officers there, people familiar with the case have said. 

  Vance, a Democrat, has in his nearly three-year-old investigation examined an array of potential wrongdoing, including whether Trump's company manipulated the value of its real estate to reduce its taxes and secure favorable loan terms. 

  Prior to entering the White House in January 2017, Trump had put his company into a trust overseen by his adult sons and Weisselberg, who has maintained tight control over its finances. It is unclear what role Trump now has at the company. 

  The case could also complicate Trump's political future, as he flirts with a possible 2024 White House run. 

  Prosecutors in Vance's office accelerated their focus on the Trump Organization's use of perks and benefits last fall. 

  Jennifer Weisselberg, the former wife of Barry Weisselberg, has met with prosecutors half a dozen times, and according to her lawyer has provided boxes of tax and bank records as well as financial statements. 

  In an interview with MSNBC, Jennifer Weisselberg said she would be prepared to testify. 

  "Yes, absolutely," she said. "I'm ready. I'm prepared and that's what I'm preparing. My documents at this time are witnesses themselves. They are being used, and they're being walked through the grand jury panel." 

  "We've been going through questions pertaining to compensation, perks and taxes just to review how to … inform a grand jury," she added. 

  Trump is visiting the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday, as Republicans attack Democratic President Joe Biden over the rise in migrants caught entering the United States. 

  Even if Trump is not charged by Vance, the former president still faces at least 17 other investigations and lawsuits. 

  These include a criminal investigation into whether Trump tried to improperly influence Georgia election officials to ensure he would defeat Biden in that state's 2020 presidential vote. They also include defamation lawsuits by two women who said Trump lied when he denied having sexually assaulted them. 

  (Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Tim Ahmann in Washington, and Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham) 

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