He does not expect Trump himself to face charges at this stage.
It is not unprecedented to charge a corporate entity instead of its top executives. State and federal prosecutors have a long history of filing criminal charges against corporations, mostly for the same reasons individuals are prosecuted.
Criminal charges can result in fines and fines — sometimes in the billions of dollars — and change the way a company operates. And in some cases, they can lead to the destruction of the business.
They can also be used by a company to encourage cooperation against individuals who have broken the law or to send a message to an industry that corporate crimes will not be tolerated.
What charges are being considered?
Grand jury proceedings are secret and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office declined to comment. But Trump Organization attorney Ron Fischetti told The Associated Press that prosecutors are interested in fringe benefits paid to some company executives, such as free use of cars or apartments and help with school tuition payments.
It is not unusual or illegal for companies to give such allowances to valued executives, but in some cases those benefits may be counted as income for tax purposes.
If an employee doesn’t pay income tax on those benefits and the company knew about it, and took steps to help that person avoid taxes, it could be illegal.
The former Republican president says he has done nothing wrong and is being unfairly targeted by Democrats to undermine him politically.
The Trump Organization is a massive corporate entity with executive officers who oversee hundreds of companies and partnerships that control real estate, licensing and hospitality enterprises around the world. These include from golf clubs to the luxury Trump Hotel Washington.
Why charge the company instead of the people running the company?
Often, pursuing individuals is a priority for prosecutors seeking to shut down illegal activity within a business.
Sometimes, however, prosecuting a company can quickly change the course of action within the industry and force the kind of collaboration that can help prosecutors pursue specific people.
Prosecutors may also find that other companies and businesses, their employees and the public at large are harmed by an entity’s illegal actions.
Why aren’t corporations sued more often?
Prosecutors are sometimes hesitant to do so because it can harm innocent employees as well as other businesses.
For example, merely declaring charges against a corporation could shut it down and cause people to lose their jobs.
How do prosecutors decide whether to charge a corporation?
One of the biggest reasons to charge a corporation is that illegal behavior is widespread and so pervasive that it would be difficult to correct, short of criminal charges.
There is also an idea of how long people have been behaving badly and what the corporation has done to stop it.
Often, companies decide to collaborate to avoid prosecution, help identify and weed out perpetrators of crime, and propose ways to prevent future criminal behavior.
If a company chose not to cooperate and resisted making changes, prosecutors would likely charge.
Are companies often sued?
Not as much as people. But litigation can be costly, if not devastating, to a business.
In 2013, BP pleaded guilty to manslaughter, agreeing to pay a record $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties related to a fatal 2010 explosion at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. The explosion killed 11 workers and dumped 134 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In turn, the spill inundated beaches, killed hundreds of thousands of marine animals and eroded tourism-based economies from Louisiana to Florida.
In 2016, a federal judge approved the settlement of civil charges that cost the company more than $20 billion. The Justice Department called it the largest environmental settlement in US history and the largest civil settlement ever with a single entity.
The BP prosecution comes after a steady decline in corporate earnings after 85,000 employees lost their jobs after the Chicago-based accounting firm Arthur Anderson was criminally convicted in 2002. Eventually, the US Supreme Court overturned Arthur Anderson’s sentence.
In a 2014 speech, then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara cited results in corporate indictments, including a jury verdict for reckless mortgage lending practices against Bank of America, in connection with Bernard Madoff’s massive fraud at JPMorgan. Deferred criminal charges against Chase & Company include deferred charges. Guilty plea by SAC Capital against Toyota Motor Corp in respect of handling of rapid acceleration problems in certain vehicles and in a case of unprecedented insider trading.
“We look at all the breathless claims of disastrous results made by companies both large and small with greater skepticism and greater skepticism,” Bharara said. “Effective resistance sometimes requires punishing institutions, because sometimes it is the institution itself that fails.”