Trump’s real estate empire faces criminal tax fraud trial

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Donald Trump’s real estate empire is facing a criminal tax fraud trial.

For years, as Donald Trump was soaring from reality TV star to the White House, his real estate empire was bankrolling big perks for some of his most trusted senior executives, including apartments and luxury cars.

Now Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, is on trial this week for criminal tax fraud.

The organization is on the hook for what prosecutors say was a 15-year scheme by top officials to hide the plums and avoid paying taxes.

Opening statements and the first witnesses are expected Monday in New York. Last week, 12 jurors and six alternates were picked for the case, the only criminal trial to arise from the Manhattan district attorney’s three-year investigation of the former president.

Among the key prosecution witnesses: Trump’s longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty and has agreed to testify against the company in exchange for a five-month jail sentence.

If convicted, the Trump Organization could be fined more than $1 million and could face difficulty in securing new loans and deals. Some partners and government entities could seek to cut ties with the company. It could also hamper its ability to do business with the U.S. Secret Service, which sometimes pays the company for lodging and services while protecting Trump as a former president.

Neither Trump nor any of his children who have worked as Trump Organization executives are charged or accused of wrongdoing. Trump is not expected to testify or even attend the trial.

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