Donald Trump's expert accountant testified over three days in the New York 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 didn't seem to know how much Trump was paying for his testimony.
In three days of testimony, Donald Trump's top accounting expert at his New York civil fraud trial appeared stumped by one 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 who's a 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," the judge suggested.
"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."
One of Attorney General Letitia James' lead lawyers, Kevin Wallace, asked whether the accountant had "an estimate of the amount of time spent" on the case.
"I don't," Flemmons answered.
The next witness to be called, Steven Collins, another Ankura consultant who's an expert in government contracts, had a ready answer. Asked right off the bat on direct examination what he was being paid, he said, "I believe it is $925." He estimated he'd worked for the Trump defense for "40 to 60 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's seeking to permanently bar the former president and his two eldest sons from doing business in New York.
Engoron, in a pretrial decision, already found that Trump's net-worth statements were riddled with fraud. He has ordered that Trump's New York real-estate company, the Trump Organization, be put in receivership and its assets "dissolved," meaning sold. The order has been appealed and is yet to be fully explained or even partially implemented.
Flemmons, a former fraud enforcer for the Securities and Exchange Commission, testified Tuesday that a wide variety of "methodologies" could legally be used in estimating property and asset values. These methodologies could produce 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 Trump's accountants had the ultimate responsibility for what was in the statements, an assertion that the AG's office and the judge have disagreed 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, Wallace asked.
"Estimated current value is not an exact science," Flemmons said.
Testimony in Trump's defense case continues Friday.
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