Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Following The Money

From the Washington Post:

Former president Donald Trump’s longtime accounting firm informed his company last week that a decade’s worth of Trump’s financial statements “should no longer be relied upon” and suggested that any recipient of the documents be alerted, according to a copy of the letter filed in New York court filings.

In the letter, Mazars executive William J. Kelly voiced new concerns about the statements, which the firm helped Trump prepare and which have come under scrutiny recently by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D). James has alleged in civil filings that Trump used the statements to inflate the value of his properties and misstated his personal worth in representations to lenders.

Kelly said Mazars reconsidered its work on the documents following questions raised by James’s office in a January filing.

“We have come to this conclusion based, in part, upon the filings made by the New York Attorney General on January 18, 2022, our own investigation, and information received from internal and external sources,” Kelly wrote in the Wednesday letter, addressed to Trump Organization attorney Alan Garten. “While we have not concluded that the various financial statements, as a whole, contain material discrepancies, based upon the totality of the circumstances, we believe our advice to you to no longer rely upon those financial statements is appropriate.”

Since at least 2002, accountant Donald Bender, a Mazars executive, has helped prepare Trump’s financial statements. In many instances, his firm attached a cover letter to the front of the documents explaining the firm’s role in assessing the value of his assets.

But in its letter last week, the accounting firm also cut off its relationship with the former president’s company, joining other banks, law firms and consulting firms that have vowed to no longer do business with the Trump Organization. In the letter, Kelly said a “non-waivable conflict of interest” prevented the firm from continuing to work for Trump.

I’ve spent nearly twenty years doing financial reporting and record-keeping; first for a large government entity, and now for a couple of charter schools. I’m not an accountant nor do I have any degrees in finance. But Mrs. Burget, my Grade 8 math teacher (may she rest in peace), taught me well: the arithmetic doesn’t lie. But the numbers themselves can be manipulated to deceive, and that’s a crime.

I have always said that the one way that Trump will be brought to justice won’t be for fomenting an insurrection or trying to overturn an election.  It will be for what made him a public figure in the first place: messing around with someone else’s money.  Financial reporting always leaves a paper trail, and it relies on other people doing their job without regard to political consequences or benefit.  It’s how the feds busted gangster Al Capone.