Trump’s expert accountant testified over the course of three days in the NY civil fraud trial.
He said accountants bear final responsibility for the net-worth statements Trump’s on the hook for.
When asked, the key defense witness could not estimate how much Trump is paying for his testimony.
In three days of testimony, Donald Trump’s top accounting expert at his New York civil fraud trial was stumped by just one single, simple math question.
“How much are you being paid?”
The question about consultancy fees was posed by the judge to the key defense witness late Thursday morning, just before he stepped down from the stand.
“My firm is being paid,” answered the witness, Jason Flemmons, a forensic accountant and senior managing director at Ankura, an international consultancy firm.
The judge, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, adjusted his question.
“How much of your bill has been paid and how much has not been paid,” the judge asked. This, too, proved a stumper of a question.
“It’s hard to say,” Flemmons answered. “Because, as your honor may know, my firm had a couple of other experts” working for the Trump defense team, he explained.
“Let’s get that on a combined basis, then,” suggested the judge.
“It’s hard for me to say,” the accountant said again. “I have not been involved in the billing process.”
Asked what Trump was billed per hour for his work on the case, Flemmons said, “I believe it’s $925 but that’s the amount my firm bills.”
“Do you have an estimate of the amount of time spent” on the case” asked one of Attorney General Letitia James’ lead lawyers, Kevin Wallace.
“I don’t,” Flemmons answered.
The next witness called, Steven Collins, another Ankura consultant and an expert in government contracts, had a ready answer. Asked right off the bat, on direct-examination, what he’s being paid, he said “I believe it is $925.” He estimated he had worked the Trump defense for “forty to sixty hours.”
The odd exchange with Flemmons followed a morning in which he elaborated on his testimony on Trump’s behalf from the prior two days.
James alleges that Trump wildly inflated his net worth — by as much as $3.6 billion a year — in statements he issued banks, insurers, and tax authorities. She is seeking to permanently ban him and his two eldest sons from doing business in New York.
Engoron, in a pretrial decision, has already found Trump’s net-worth statements were riddled with fraud. He has ordered that Trump’s New York-headquartered real estate company, the Trump Organization, be put in receivership and its assets “dissolved,” or sold. The order has been appealed and is yet to be fully explained or even partially implemented.
On Tuesday, Flemmons, a former fraud enforcer for the Securities and Exchange Commision, testified that a wide variety of “methodologies” can be used in coming up with the estimated property and asset values. These methodologies can come up with net-worth values that differ from each other by “orders of magnitude,” he said.
On Wednesday, Flemmons conceded on the stand that a decade’s worth of Trump’s annual net-worth statements contained “glaring” problems. But he said that Trump’s accountants had the ultimate responsibility for what’s in the statements, an assertion that the AG’s office and the judge have differed with.
On Thursday, he was asked by Wallace, the attorney for the AG, about that “orders of magnitude” remark.
“How are you able to have values that differ by an order of magnitude” that both reflect a property’s current value, he asked.
“Estimated current value is not an exact science,” he said.
Testimony in Trump’s defense case continues Friday.
Read the original article on Business Insider