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FirstFT: Trump Organization’s former CFO pleads guilty in tax fraud case

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Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in a tax fraud case relating to his time working for former US president Donald Trump’s family business.

Weisselberg pleaded guilty to all 15 counts in the indictment on Thursday. Under a deal struck with Manhattan prosecutors, he was promised a jail sentence of five months to be served at Rikers Island, New York, along with a possible five years’ probation contingent on him testifying truthfully in the upcoming trial of the Trump Organization if he is called upon. He faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges against him.

The case against the Trump Organization is continuing, and jury selection is scheduled for October 24.

The Trump Organization and Weisselberg, one of its most loyal and longtime employees, were charged last year in connection with what prosecutors alleged was a 15-year scheme in which top company officials avoided paying taxes by receiving benefits “off the books”.

Prosecutors said Weisselberg had not paid taxes on $1.7mn in income and perks including a luxury Manhattan apartment, a pair of Mercedes-Benz cars and private school tuition for family members.

The Trump Organization’s financial practices have been under legal scrutiny for years. Former Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance launched the current investigation after Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified before Congress about the Trump Organization and Weisselberg.

How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take this quiz to find out. Thank you for reading FirstFT Americas — Amy

1. Judge moves towards unsealing parts of Mar-a-Lago affidavit
A federal judge in Florida has given the US Department of Justice one week to suggest redactions to the affidavit justifying the search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort last week, paving the way for parts of the document to become publicly available.

  • Trump’s turmoil poses a conundrum for Republicans
    In the wake of the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump has boosted his fundraising, fired up his conservative supporters and helped vanquish Liz Cheney, arguably his biggest Republican foe.

2. UK consumer confidence hits record low
UK consumer confidence has fallen to its lowest level since comparable records began almost 50 years ago as the rising cost of living stokes concerns over personal finances and economic prospects.

Line chart of Index score showing UK consumer confidence hits a record low

3. Middle East states set for $1.3tn oil windfall, says IMF The energy-rich states are set to reap up to $1.3tn in additional oil revenues over the next four years thanks to elevated prices, according to the IMF. The windfall will bolster the firepower of regional sovereign wealth funds at a time when asset prices have sold off.

4. Erdoğan backs Ukraine peace talks Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he supported peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow after meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Ukraine yesterday. The Turkish president has pursued a balancing act, condemning the invasion and selling combat drones to Ukraine but refusing to impose sanctions against Russia.

5. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin to attend G20 meeting, says Widodo Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo said in an interview broadcast on Bloomberg that the Chinese and Russian leaders told him they would come to the conference in Bali, setting up a potentially difficult series of meetings as governments clash over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The days ahead

UN secretary-general in Odesa António Guterres visits the Ukrainian port, a sign of hope that the Black Sea Grain Initiative to open food shipping lanes will hold. The deal was brokered by Turkey last month.

Economic data Canada reports monthly retail trade figures today.

German chancellor in Canada Olaf Scholz begins a state visit on Sunday, which includes stops in Montreal, Toronto and Stephenville in west Newfoundland. Scholz and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau are expected to discuss the Ukraine war and energy co-operation. (CBC)

What else we’re reading and listening to

Salman Rushdie and the sacred right to irreverence The Satanic Verses author has long been one of the modern world’s freest writers: his wordplay defies gravity, his mockery gives oxygen to creativity. After last week’s savage attack, Simon Schama argues that disrespect is essential for democracy and free expression.

Salman Rushdie, surrounded by security guards, speaks at Columbia University in 1991 — his first public appearance outside the UK following the 1989 fatwa
Salman Rushdie, surrounded by security guards, speaks at Columbia University in 1991 — his first public appearance outside the UK following the 1989 fatwa © Mark Lennihan/AP

Crispr gene editing speeds from lab to treatment room Just a decade after the revolutionary gene-editing technology was invented, the first drug to make use of it, targeting inherited blood diseases, will be with regulators by the end of the year. Here’s how Crispr could transform treatment of genetic diseases.

New strain of avian flu kills wild birds Before the coronavirus pandemic, the death of 86mn birds would have been a global news story. The level of transmission is unprecedented and the highly pathogenic strain has survived in populations year-round. Should humans worry?

A sceptic’s guide to crypto Despite the crash in cryptocurrency markets this year, many people believe there is a future for digital assets and blockchain technology. FT columnist and avowed crypto sceptic Jemima Kelly isn’t so sure. In our new podcast series, she takes a deep trip into cryptoland to hear the critics, converts and believers.

An American joins a Fantasy Premier League A few weeks ago, Oliver Roeder was invited to join his British newsroom’s Fantasy Premier League, assembling an imaginary team of real-life players. He soon encountered problems, chief among them: whom to select. But he found the help of an algorithm.


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