Donald Trump’s business empire, the Trump Organization, was sentenced in a New York court on Friday to the maximum allowable fine of $1.6m for a tax fraud scheme going back at least 10 years.
Despite the fine itself being relatively small for a huge business, the symbolism of a criminal conviction for an entity so close to the former president is significant.
Two entities from his sprawling real estate group were convicted last month on 17 charges, such as tax fraud and falsifying business records – the Trump Corp core business and Trump Payroll Corp.
Under New York law, the most the companies could have been fined was around $1.6m – a drop in the bucket for the longstanding business empire of Trump and his family.
Trump himself was not on trial and denied any knowledge of his executives evading taxes illegally.
While a fine of that amount isn’t likely to affect the company’s operations or future, the conviction is a black mark on the Republican’s reputation as a savvy businessman as he mounts a campaign to regain the White House.
Besides the company, only one executive was charged in the case: former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty last summer to evading taxes on $1.7m in compensation.
He was sentenced on Tuesday to five months in jail.
Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg issued a statement saying: “Today, former President Trump’s companies were sentenced to the maximum fines allowed by law following historic convictions for a total of 17 felony crimes.”
He added: “Chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Corporation, and the Trump Payroll Corp conducted and benefitted from sweeping fraud for well over a decade.
“While corporations can’t serve jail time, this consequential conviction and sentencing serves as a reminder to corporations and executives that you cannot defraud tax authorities and get away with it.”