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Trump company, CFO plead not guilty to criminal charges

Credit: REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI

Donald Trump's longtime financial chief and an affiliate of the former U.S. president's company pleaded not guilty on Thursday to criminal charges brought in a probe by Manhattan's district attorney into Trump and his business practices.

By Karen Freifeld, Jonathan Stempel and Jan Wolfe

NEW YORK, July 1 (Reuters) - Donald Trump's longtime financial chief and an affiliate of the former U.S. president's company pleaded not guilty on Thursday to criminal charges in a sweeping indictment from a probe by Manhattan's district attorney into Trump and his business practices.

Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, was charged in the 15-count indictment with avoiding taxes on $1.7 million of income, while an affiliate of the company was charged with scheming to defraud.

The charges were announced one day after a grand jury indicted the organization and its executive.

"This was a 15-year long tax fraud scheme involving off the books payments," prosecutor Carey Dunne said at the arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court.

"It was orchestrated by the most senior executives who were financially benefiting themselves and the company, by getting secret pay raises at the expense of state and federal taxpayers," he said.

The indictment could undermine the relationships of Trump's company with banks and business partners.

It could also complicate Trump's political future, as he resumes holding rallies and mulls a 2024 White House run.

Cyrus Vance, the district attorney, began his still-ongoing investigation nearly three years ago, and has been working in recent months with the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Vance and James are Democrats, and both attended Thursday's arraignment. Weisselberg, 73, wore handcuffs as he was led to the courtroom.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld, Brendan Pierson and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Julia Harte, Joseph Tanfani and Jan Wolfe in Washington, D.C.; and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Peter Graff and Daniel Wallis)

((Jan.Wolfe@thomsonreuters.com;))

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