NEW YORK — The Trump Organization’s longtime controller returned to the witness stand Monday as a witness for the defense at Donald Trump’s financial fraud trial and continued to downplay his role in the fraudulent financial statements central to the case.
Jeffrey McConney, accused in the $250 million lawsuit alongside Trump and his high-ranking execs, again laid responsibility on the company’s outside accountants.
“Whatever he asked for, we would do,” McConney claimed of Donald Bender from the Mazars accounting firm, saying he relied on the accountant for “a lot.”
“We provided him everything he needed,” he later testified.
McConney is described in New York Attorney General Tish James’ case as playing a pivotal role in the years-long scheme to falsely inflate Trump’s bottom line by billions to profit in business deals illegally.
As deputy to ex-Trump Org finance chief Allen Weisselberg, he prepared the calculations behind the figures in yearly statements tallying Trump’s net worth from 2011 to 2017, according to the state’s case, and supervised and approved the process after Trump was elected until his retirement in 2022.
McConney’s data spreadsheets breaking down the valuations, known internally as “Jeff Supporting Data,” are described in the AG’s case as a “principal locus” of Trump and his associates’ fraud. After calculating the numbers with input from the Trump kids, the AG says, he provided them to Mazars to format into statements used in loan applications and other lucrative deals.
Trump and his codefendants have sought to blame Bender — who authorities have not accused of wrongdoing — for any inaccuracies in the final product. They also tried to blame him when Weisselberg and the company were criminally charged with tax fraud in a separate scheme, leading to their convictions last year.
When he testified earlier in the trial, Bender said Trump’s company retained Mazars to compile its internal figures, not to audit them. He said Trump’s execs were “not giving us all the documents that we needed, potentially, to compile the compilation.”
Asked Monday by Trump lawyer Jesus Suarez whether he’d ever hidden anything from Bender, McConney said, “No.”
McConney, when asked what Mazars did to fact-check the data, said the outside accountants would “go through the footnotes” and make necessary changes. He said he couldn’t recall ever declining to do something Bender asked him to.
Asked about their ranking on his list of responsibilities and how much time he spent working on the statements, McConney claimed “very little” outside of July and October.
“It was just a matter of gathering all the information,” he said.
Judge Arthur Engoron, in a pretrial ruling, found McConney, Weisselberg, Trump, and his older sons, Eric and Don Jr., liable for widespread fraud based on evidence they provided and did not dispute showing the statements fraudulently inflated his worth by up to $2.2 billion over several years.
He’s considering the AG’s remaining six claims at the case on trial threatening the family real estate empire, relating to the underlying conspiracy, insurance fraud, and how much money Trump and his crew illegally made by lying about his net worth. Evidence presented by the AG has shown banks lost more than $300 million in interest due to the lies.
McConney is expected to continue on the witness stand Tuesday for the defense and then face cross-examination. Trump’s lawyers have called more than half a dozen witnesses since beginning their case last week with Don Jr., who similarly blamed the outside accountants.
Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner for president who is facing 91 felonies in four criminal cases and a slew of lawsuits, denies all wrongdoing along with his codefendants. He hasn’t attended his lawyers’ defense case. Their main arguments are that valuing buildings is an art, not a science, and that banks and lenders got richer by doing business with Trump.
In a tweet Monday, AG James said testimony by Trump’s expert witnesses — who have testified that the company’s method of valuing its buildings was standard — should be taken with a grain of salt.
“Several of these experts are longtime friends and golf buddies of Donald Trump,” the AG tweeted. “One had donated millions of dollars to Donald Trump’s campaign and his son even got married at Mar-a-Lago.”