Posts tagged with "The Wall Street Journal"

The incredible disappearing hotel breakfast—and other amenities travelers miss

October 21, 2021

Hotel guests are finding that perks they’ve long expected, like free breakfast or drinks, are still being advertised even when they are no longer available, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Eighteen months into the pandemic, travelers say they keep encountering misleading and false promises on hotel websites.

Indeed, they complain of finding the elite-level lounges, free breakfast or happy-hour receptions with snacks unavailable—sometimes even when hotels claim they’ve been restored.

Indeed, the Journal notes, some road warriors say they routinely call ahead now to find out what the hotel has cut. Guests often see compensation for service cuts only after complaining.

The biggest difference between business-class rooms and regular rooms at Radisson Hotels is breakfast. It’s included with a business-class booking but not when paying regular rates. Except many U.S. Radissons still haven’t reopened restaurants, so every guest gets a grab-and-go breakfast.

“Business class is for when the restaurant is open and you get a cooked breakfast, not for right now,” says a front-desk clerk at the Radisson Schaumburg, Ilinois, near Chicago.

Somebody ought to tell Radisson’s website and reservations department. The chain was still selling business-class rooms at higher prices as of Tuesday afternoon, October 19. A one-night stay this week costs $5 more. But book five mid-November nights at the Schaumburg hotel and a regular king-bed room costs $94 a night, while a business-class king is $219 for the same dates. For that money, you’re basically getting some bonus points and drink vouchers.

Radisson didn’t respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.

It isn’t always clear whether service reductions are due to COVID-19 safety precautions or cost-cutting. Some hotels are offering hot buffets on weekends, when they’re full, but no hot breakfast on weekdays, when occupancy is lower because of weak business travel.

Roger Hooson, a recently retired urban planner from the San Francisco Bay Area, called the Hyatt Regency St. Louis. They told him the restaurant had reopened and he’d get free breakfast, since he’s at a top tier of Hyatt’s loyalty program. He arrived earlier this month and was told yes, the restaurant had indeed reopened, but not on the days of his visit.

“It’s a shifting target,” he says. A spokesperson for Hyatt says its hotels try to find alternatives for eligible World of Hyatt members when complimentary breakfast isn’t available.

Hotel chains have almost universally posted notices on their websites that some amenities may not be available at some properties because of the pandemic. But drill down to offerings at specific hotels, and often nothing has been updated.

“We are now past the point where the pandemic is a temporary excuse,” says Jay Sorensen, a consultant to travel companies on branding and loyalty. “In today’s environment, it should be so simple to effectively convey what is happening or not happening on a property-by-property basis, and they are not.”

Sorensen told the Journal that he thinks many hotels are damaging the credibility of their websites and apps as sources of accurate information about properties—and how people view their brands, too. If your brand is free hot breakfasts and you’re not consistently providing them, you’ve got a problem.

Similarly, Karl Chang of Richmond, Virginia, who retired during the pandemic but continues to travel frequently, says he avoids full-service Marriotts because his titanium status no longer gets him any amenities such as free breakfast or loyalty-member lounges. Grab-and-go offerings often amount to high-calorie breakfast bars and other processed foods.

Instead, he now gravitates to limited-service hotels that still have a free breakfast for everyone, albeit with reduced offerings. Some hotels will compensate guests for reduced amenities by offering bonus points or even gift cards toward future stays.

“It’s something you have to ask for,” Chang notes. “Hotels may not be volunteering these extra benefits.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Former Boeing pilot is indicted in probe of 737 MAX crashes

October 18, 2021

A federal grand jury in Texas has indicted a former Boeing  pilot—alleging that he deceived air-safety regulators about a flight-control system that later was blamed for sending two 737 MAX jets into fatal nosedives, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Mark A. Forkner, 49 years old, was charged with six counts of fraud related to his alleged role in persuading the Federal Aviation Administration to approve pilot-trai

The crashes occurred in late 2018 and early 2019 and took 346 lives.

David Gerger, an attorney for Forkner, did not respond to requests for comment late Thursday, the Journal notes. Gerger has previously said that Forkner, a pilot and Air Force veteran, wouldn’t endanger pilots or passengers and that his communications with regulators were honest.

However, prosecutors allege that Forkner, in his role as Boeing’s 737 MAX chief technical pilot, withheld crucial information from the FAA about the flight-control system known as MCAS. As a result of his alleged deception, a key FAA report, pilot manuals and training materials lacked references to the system, defrauding Boeing’s airline customers, prosecutors said.

Forkner “abused his position of trust by intentionally withholding critical information about MCAS,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. said in a statement.

Forkner was expected to make an initial court appearance on Friday in Fort Worth, prosecutors said. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, and 10 years in prison for each count of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce.

Boeing and the FAA declined to comment. The case against Forkner is the first time an individual has faced charges related to the dual MAX crashes, the first of which occurred three years ago this month. Boeing reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department earlier this year.

Research contact: @WSJ

Trump closes in on a deal to sell marquee Washington, D.C., hotel

October 13, 2021

The Miami-based CGI Merchant Group currently is in talks to pay ex-President Donald Trump’s family company around $370 million for the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.—which, during the last administration, attracted GOP lawmakers, lobbyists and other political attention-grabbers, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., is located in the former Old Post Office, a short walk down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House in a building featuring some of the largest guest rooms in the capital.

The property is owned by the federal government, but with extensions the lease runs close to 100 years. CGI also has entered into discussions with hotel operators, including Hilton Worldwide HoldingsWaldorf Astoria luxury brand, about removing the Trump name in favor of that of another hotel manager, NBC News sources said.

The lease deal could ultimately fetch closer to $400 million, which would represent roughly a doubling of the money the Trump Organization spent to convert the government building into a luxury hotel, said one of the people familiar with the matter.

The Trump Organization initially hoped to sell the lease for close to $500 million, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal in 2019.

The hotel sales talks have been heating up as Democratic-controlled House committees have been investigating and holding hearings on potential conflicts of interest and emoluments issues surrounding Trump.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has been examining the lease terms between the Trump Organization and the federal government’s General Services Administration for use of the Old Post Office. The deal predates Mr. Trump’s entry into national politics, but the committee is probing how well Trump managed conflicts of interest while president.

A Friday report from the House committee said the hotel lost more than $70 million between its opening in 2016 and last year—leading the company to inject at least $24 million in aid.

Research contact: @WSJ

Angelina Jolie sells stake in French wine estate, capping fight with Brad Pitt over Miraval

October 7, 2021

Actress Angelina Jolie has sold her stake in a French château and winery business to a third party—capping a yearslong fight in which she and ex-husband Brad Pitt battled over the future of their assets, reports The Wall Steet Journal.

The couple bought the Château Miraval estate in southern France in 2008, and they were married there in 2014. While the two have since divorced; they both retained equal ownership of the estate and the wine brand Miravalknown for its rosé.

Jolie in July sought to lift temporary restraining orders put in place during the couple’s divorce proceedings, which would allow her to sell her half of the estate. A declaration filed by one of her lawyers in Superior Court of Los Angeles County said she wanted to remove herself from being a “disregarded business partner with her ex-husband,” according to court documents.

Tenute del Mondo, the third party that acquired Jolie’s 50% stake, is a wine division and subsidiary of Luxembourg-based Stoli Group. It co-owns wines brands, including Luce and Masseto, with the Frescobaldi family.

Terms of the deal, announced on Tuesday, October 5, weren’t disclosed. A legal representative for Jolie didn’t respond to a request for comment. A representative for Pitt didn’t have an immediate comment.

Pitt will keep his stake in the estate, according to a spokesperson for Stoli Group.

Research contact: @WSJ

Tesla to pay more than $130 million in damages to Black former worker

IOctober 6, 2021

Tesla  subjected a Black former worker to a racially hostile work environment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent him from being harassed, a federal jury in San Francisco found on Monday, October 4.

The eight-person jury awarded more than $130 million in damages to Owen Diaz, who worked as an elevator operator at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory in 2015 and 2016, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Diaz often was called racial epithets at work, where he saw racist images and language written in the bathroom and elsewhere, said Bernard Alexander, one of his attorneys, during the trial. The factory, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, was Tesla’s lone auto assembly plant at the time—employing roughly 10,000 people.

The complainant, age 53, held his head in his hands after the jury’s verdict was read. He called the decision a weight off his shoulders. The trial lasted just over a week.

“It shines a light on what’s going on inside of Tesla’s factory,” he said. “Elon Musk, you’ve been put on notice. Clean that factory up.”

Tracey Kennedy, an attorney for Tesla, said in her closing argument that there was no evidence that a Tesla employee harassed Diaz and that the company shouldn’t be held liable for the treatment Diaz alleged. Many workers at Tesla’s factory are contractors employed through staffing agencies.

Tesla’s VP of People Valerie Capers Workman said in an email to employees Monday that when Mr. Diaz complained about harassment, the company ensured its staffing agencies took action.

“While we strongly believe that these facts don’t justify the verdict reached by the jury in San Francisco, we do recognize that in 2015 and 2016 we were not perfect,” she said in the note, which was republished on Tesla’s blog.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the verdict or any plans to appeal.

Among the three claims on which the trial centered are the following:

  • Tesla subjected Diaz to a racially hostile work environment;
  • The company failed to prevent him from being racially harassed; and
  • Tesla was negligent in its supervision or retention of an employee, causing harm to Diaz.

Tesla denied in a court filing that it was aware of the alleged discriminatory and harassing behavior and didn’t take action to protect Black employees. Kennedy urged the jury to find in Tesla’s favor on each of the claims.

However, the jury, after roughly four hours of deliberation, found in favor of Diaz on all claims and ordered Tesla to pay Diaz $6.9 million in compensatory damages and $130 million in punitive damages.

It is the second time in recent months that the electric-vehicle maker has been found liable in a case involving claims of race-based harassment or discrimination.

Another Black former Tesla worker, Melvin Berry, won a $1 million judgment in May after an arbitrator found that he was called racial slurs by his supervisors and subjected to other racial conduct in the Fremont factory. Tesla was obligated to investigate and stop the racial discrimination and failed to do so, the arbitrator said in her order.

Tesla said that any actions the company took weren’t racially based, according to the order.

Diaz, who was employed by a staffing agency, didn’t sign an arbitration agreement, allowing his case to proceed to trial. His attorneys said they believed this to be the first case involving alleged harassment or discrimination at Tesla to reach trial.

Tesla is facing similar claims in California state court, where former Tesla assembly worker Marcus Vaughn sued, alleging that Tesla created an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment for Black workers. He and other plaintiffs are seeking class certification.

Tesla has denied the claims, court records show. In a blog post after Vaughn filed his lawsuit in 2017, Tesla said, “it is not humanly possible to stop all bad conduct, but we will do our best to make it as close to zero as possible.”

An investor proposal up for consideration at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting Thursday calls on the board to oversee preparation of a report about how the company’s use of mandatory arbitration affects employees and corporate culture. Tesla’s board has urged investors to vote against the proposal. A similar measure failed last year.

Research contact: @WSJ

SeatGeek allows ticket holders to cancel for a credit at least 72 hours before a live event

October 5, 2021

The pandemic introduced a whole new level of uncertainty into planning a night out. But now, SeatGeek says it will offer a credit for any ticket returned at least 72 hours before the event, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The live-event ticketing platform SeatGeek—founded in 2007 and based in New York City—has begun giving buyers the option to return their ticketsfor any reason—and get a credit toward another event.

Its new feature, called SeatGeek Swaps, gives buyers who return their tickets at least 72 hours before any event a promotional credit equal to the purchase price and any fees paid.

SeatGeek told the Journal that it is offering the alternative just  as the pandemic has pushed all manner of purchases—not just tickets—online, and introduced new uncertainty into planning nights out.

“When you look at how people use their phones, and what they expect of the product, people expect more flexibility and expect things to be on-demand, expect to not be locked into something for the long term,” said Jack Groetzinger, a co-founder and the chief executive of SeatGeek.

The new feature could have trickle-down effects across the ticketing and reselling industry, analysts said. Currently, many ticket sellers and marketplaces offer refunds only under specific circumstances, like canceled events, and sell ticket insurance that covers certain changes in plans.

Online sales of event tickets in the United States, including sales and resales, is expected to increase 4.7% between now and 2026 to $7.9 billion, according to IBISWorld, a research firm.

The ticket sales industry is crowded, with powers like Ticketmaster, a subsidiary of Live Nation Entertainment, facing off against rivals like SeatGeek, StubHubEventbrite, and Gametime.

Sellers on the platform receive payment for their tickets even if buyers return them, the company said. SeatGeek will put the returned tickets back up for sale. Ticket brokers and fans, who comprise the vast majority of sellers on the platform, have been automatically added to the swaps program.

But the swaps program might not work smoothly for all venues. SeatGeek is consulting with those that sell season tickets, for instance, to see how the feature could work for them, according to the company. The considerations of venues also differ from those of individuals—for example, venues need to make sure ticket holders show up to buy things like drinks and snacks.

SeatGeek decided to issue credits for returns instead of cash back to avoid potential fraud issues, company executives said. Credits also keep consumers and their money within SeatGeek.

A service like SeatGeek Swaps offers consumers greater freedom in their choices that other platforms don’t have and which may end up encouraging buyers to use SeatGeek over others, said Paul Hardart, director of the Entertainment, Media and Technology program at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

“For the customer, it gives them some optionality that they didn’t have before,” Hardart said. “A lot of that is perceived value, but it is real. You have that choice to get out of it and that might encourage people. Especially during COVID, a lot of people are hesitant to commit to anything too far in advance.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Biden to pledge 500 million more Pfizer vaccine doses for poor nations at U.N. COVID Summit

September 23, 2021

President Joe Biden was expected to announce on  Wednesday, September 22 that the United States will purchase 500 million additional doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer  and BioNTech to donate to developing countries, senior administration officials told The Wall Street Journal.

Biden was scheduled to make the announcement at a virtual COVID-19 summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assemblybringing the total U.S. commitment to 1.1 billion doses to be shared overseas.

According to the Journal, the decision comes as Biden is seeking to expand America’s role in helping to accelerate global vaccination efforts in low- and lower-middle-income countries that have struggled with access to shots.

The new batch of Pfizer vaccines will be manufactured in the United States and begin shipping out in January, officials said. The donation doubles an earlier U.S. pledge of 500 million Pfizer doses to developing countries by the end of June 2022.

The donated vaccines are being routed through Covax, an international program backed by the World Health Organization and tasked with supplying vaccines to the world’s poorest nations.

Although the United states has so far offered the largest donation total of any country, some international aid groups have called on the Biden Administration and other wealthy nations to do more to help inoculate the global population. Only 2% of people in low-income countries have received a first dose of the vaccine, according to the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data project, prompting some health experts to warn that more lives could be lost to COVID-19 in 2022 than 2021.

The U.S. previously sent more than 110 million doses overseas, most of which were manufactured by Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, with recipient countries ranging from wealthy allies such as Canada to developing nations like Haiti.

Biden also planned to use Wednesday’s summit to call on other world leaders to help expand global access to the vaccine and take steps to make testing, therapeutics and personal protective equipment more available around the world, officials said. He intended to further urge leaders to help low- and lower-middle-income nations vaccinate at least 70% of their populations by September next year.

Research contact: @WSJ

Amazon to launch Fire TV sets in bid to firm up its foothold in living rooms

September 10, 2021

Amazon plans to roll out  a line of Fire TV sets that will feature its Alexa voice assistant—an expansion that also showcases a growing ambition to place itself at the center of customer living rooms, reports The Wall Street Journal.

On September 9, the tech giant announced two lineups of Amazon-branded TVs—one named Amazon Fire TV Omni Series, starting at $409.99, and the other Amazon Fire TV 4-Series, which will start at $369.99. The TVs will be available on Amazon’s website and at Best Buy. locations in October.

TV brands including Toshiba and Best Buy house brand Insignia have for years sold televisions powered by Amazon Fire TV’s operating system after Amazon and Best Buy joined forces in 2018.

What’s more, the Journal notes, Amazon has become dominant in streaming, with its Fire TV devices regularly ranking among top sellers. Its entertainment services include the Prime Video streaming platform, Fire TV operating system, and an assortment of streaming devices.

In recent years, Amazon has expanded its own-brand business in several arenas, including apparel, groceries and even items such as batteries. The company has opened branded grocery shops and plans to operate several department stores that will feature its private-label brands, the Journal reported last month.

Through its branded TVs, the online retailer is taking on a segment of electronics known for low margins that have dissuaded some competitors. Apple spent years studying the potential for an Apple TV, but has so far only developed a streaming device and the video service Apple TV+. The iPhone maker has long targeted opportunities to integrate hardware and software to make products where it can command hefty premiums and profit margins.

Amazon, meanwhile, historically has sought market share over profit and to appeal to customers with lower prices. The company in recent years has released an array of Alexa-enabled products, including ear buds and glasses.

An Amazon TV “speaks to Amazon’s product road map—anything customers spend time on, they want to take a shot at,” said Loup Ventures tech analyst Gene Munster. “There will be a market for cheap, good tech.”

The streaming industry is crowded with competitors. Amazon has faced steep competition from Roku  while being challenged by broadband giants such as Comcast,  which has worked with Walmart  and Chinese manufacturer Hisense to develop smart TVs.

Amazon said its Omni Series TVs will be equipped with the company’s Alexa assistant, which will feature “far-field voice controls” that enable customers to ask Alexa questions without a remote, much like the company’s Echo smart speakers.

The TVs will be available in sizes ranging from 43 inches to 75 inches diagonally and will have 4K resolution. Amazon said its Fire TV 4-Series will support Alexa capabilities available through its Alexa Voice Remote. The more affordable 4-Series TVs will be available in 43-inch, 50-inch and 55-inch models.

Daniel Rausch, vice president of Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services, said the television lineup will build on the company’s effort to bring ambient computing to people’s homes. He likened their capabilities to its smart speakers, with the Omni Series models responding and turning on to a wake word—often programmed as “Alexa”—even when they are turned off.

Finally despite launching competing TV products, Amazon said its partnerships with Toshiba and others aren’t changing. The company Thursday also announced new Fire TV-powered televisions by Toshiba and Pioneer. Amazon has clashed with partners and potential partners over how it has launched products that compete with them. The company has said it doesn’t use confidential information that other firms share with it to build competing products.

Aside from its branded TVs, Amazon on Thursday also revealed the latest iteration of its Fire TV Stick 4K product. The new Stick 4K “Max” (priced at $54.99) will include Alexa features and have power and networking upgrades.

 Research contact: @WSJ

‘Cold case’: FTC said to be investigating McDonald’s broken McFlurry machines

September 6, 2021

The feds have had it with McDonald’s broken McFlurry machines, reports the New York Post.

The Federal Trade Commission is said to be investigating why the burger chain’s ice cream machines break down so often—a matter that’s become the butt of late-night TV jokes and viral social media posts.

The FTC contacted McDonald’s franchise owners this summer seeking information on what the problem is with the chain’s ice cream machines, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, September 1—citing a letter from the FTC and sources familiar with the matter.

When reached for comment by The Post, representatives for the FTC declined to comment.

The broken machines have drawn the ire of franchisees, who say it leaves them unable to serve milkshakes, soft cones; and the preeminent McFlurry, a cup of ice cream blended with candy and cookies.

The machines require a nightly automated heat-cleaning cycle that can take up to four hours, the Journal reported; and the cleaning cycle can fail, which makes the machines unusable until a repair technician can fix them.

The dysfunctional machines make treats that account for about 60% of the chain’s dessert sales in the United States, the Journal reported, citing a consumer survey by research firm Technomic.

And the repeated breakdowns rub customers the wrong way, spurring some to even pen petitions calling for action.

We are tired of being the butt of late night jokes. So are our customers and crews,” The National Owners Association, a group of franchisees, said in a May message to owners, according to the Journal.

Some franchise owners aren’t waiting for the corporate bosses to do something. Instead, they’re reportedly paying on their own to train staff on how to fix the machines.

Others have reached out to the machine’s manufacturer, Taylor Commercial Foodservice, which says the machines, themselves, are fine.

“A lot of what’s been broadcasted can be attributed to the lack of knowledge about the equipment and how they operate in the restaurants,” a Taylor representative told the Journal.

When working with dairy products, “you have to make sure the machine is cleaned properly. The machines are built up with a lot of interconnecting parts that have to operate in a complex environment and manner,” the representative added.

“There is no reason for us to purposely design our equipment to be confusing or hard to repair or hurt our operators.”

One startup, called Kytch, has tried to help franchisees address the problem by building a device that mounts on the ice cream machines and alerts owners about a breakdown through real-time text and email alerts.

The company told the Journal that its devices can prevent damage to the machines and help franchisees keep them running.

At one point, McDonald’s franchisees in 30 states used Kytch’s devices, the company told the Journal, but then McDonald’s told franchisees that the devices aren’t sanctioned and that they could pose a safety hazard, which Kytch denies.

“Nothing is more important to us than delivering on our high standards for food quality and safety,” the corporate parent reportedly said to franchisees, “which is why we work with fully vetted partners that can reliably provide safe solutions at scale.”

Kytch responded in May with a lawsuit that accused Taylor, a separate repair company authorized to work on the ice cream machines and a McDonald’s franchisee of conspiring to steal Kytch’s technology and replicate its device.

This is a case about corporate espionage and the extreme steps one manufacturer has taken to conceal and protect a multimillion-dollar repair racket,” attorneys for Kytch wrote in the complaint in California Superior Court in Alameda County. The case is pending.

But Taylor denied it had a copy of Kytch’s device or that it wanted to steal the startup’s technology.

“This is a case of a hacker—Kytch—incredibly accusing the hacked—Taylor—of theft,” lawyers for Taylor said in a court filing.

The Tennessee-based franchisee who was named in the suit also denied the allegations.

In an interview with the Journal, Kytch co-founder Jeremy O’Sullivan then accused Taylor of infringing on McDonald’s franchisees’ rights to alter and repair their ice cream machines.

Taylor responded by saying that owners are allowed to repair equipment as they see fit, but that the warranty on the machines isn’t valid if they fix them on their own, according to the Journal.

According to the Post, the FTC’s interest in the matter may stem from the Biden administration’s previously announced efforts to crack down on various manufacturers of products ranging from phones to farming equipment. Critics have alleged that major manufacturers of such products restrict customers from fixing the products themselves.

In July, Biden signed an executive order directing agencies to take the matter on, saying at the time in a fact sheet that Americans should be able to repair good they purchased on their own.

At the root of the FTC’s inquiry is how McDonald’s reviews suppliers and equipment, including the ice cream machines, and how often restaurant owners are allowed to work on their machines. The FTC inquiry is preliminary, and “the existence of a preliminary investigation does not indicate the FTC or its staff have found any wrongdoing,” the agency’s letter reportedly said.

In a statement, McDonald’s said it “has no reason to believe we are the focus of an FTC investigation.”

Research contact: @nypost

Two Trump Organization employees are called to testify before Manhattan grand jury

September 3, 2021

Two Trump Organization employees—a senior finance official and a director of security—are expected to testify before a grand jury early this month, as Manhattan prosecutors seek to advance their criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s business affairs, according to people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Matthew Calamari Jr., the Trump Organization’s corporate director of security—and the son of the company’s COO—was served a subpoena for his testimony this week, the sources said. Prosecutors have examined an apartment Calamari received from the Trump Organization and how he reported that apartment on his taxes, according to those same sources.

Jeffrey McConney, a senior finance official at the Trump Organization, also is expected to go before the grand jury again very shortly.

Citing people with knowledge of the matter, The New York Times reported that the order for McConney—the long-standing Trump Organization controller and one of a small group of officials supervising the company’s fiscal matters—to testify before a state grand jury relating to the office’s ongoing probe into top Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.

McConney, who previously testified before the grand jury prior to the indictments of the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer earlier this summer, prepared the personal tax returns of Matthew Calamari Sr. , people familiar with the matter said.

Calamari Jr.’s testimony before the grand jury would grant him immunity on the subjects about which he testified—signaling that prosecutors don’t plan to indict him. Prosecutors continue to investigate whether the elder Calamari received tax-free fringe benefits and to determine whether his cooperation would be helpful to them, according to people familiar with the matter.

Nicholas Gravante Jr., the Calamaris’ lawyer, denied wrongdoing by his clients and said: “If either of my clients [is] subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury, they have no choice but to do so, and will appear and testify truthfully.”

A lawyer for McConney didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In July, the Manhattan district attorney’s office announced indictments—charging the Trump Organization and Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg with tax fraud. Prosecutors accused Weisselberg and the company of a 15-year-long tax-fraud scheme involving off-the-books payments and perks like cars and apartments to employees at the company. Prosecutors from the New York attorney general’s office are working with the district attorney’s office on the case.

According to the Journal, Weisselberg and lawyers for the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty. Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, said that the case was brought because of the Trump name and that compensation cases are resolved by civil tax authorities.

Since then, prosecutors have fought with the Trump Organization over documents the district attorney’s office subpoenaed.

A second sealed court appearance over that dispute took place last week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Research contact: @WSJ