New York AG claims Trump's company misled tax officials and banks

NEW YORK (AP), Late Tuesday, the New York Attorney General's Office told a court that its investigators had found evidence that ex-President Donald Trump's company used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain loans and tax benefits.

19 January 2022 Wednesday 11:01
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New York AG claims Trump's company misled tax officials and banks

According to the court filing, state authorities are yet to decide whether to file a lawsuit to address the allegations. However, investigators must question Trump and his two oldest children as part the investigation.

Wednesday's statement by the Trump Organization referred to the civil investigation as "baseless" & politically motivated.

The court documents show that Attorney General Letitia Jam's office provided the most thorough accounting of the long-running investigation into allegations Trump's company exaggerated assets' value to obtain favorable loan terms or misrepresented the land's worth to reduce its tax burden.

It claimed that the Trump Organization had exaggerated the value of land donated in New York and California in paperwork submitted to IRS in order to justify several millions in tax deductions.

The company incorrectly reported Trump's Manhattan penthouse size when estimating his wealth. It claimed it was almost three times larger than its actual size. James' office cited testimony from Allen Weisselberg (Trump's long-time financial chief), who was also charged with tax fraud last year in a parallel criminal investigation.

James' office presented its findings in court motion to force Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Trump to comply with subpoenas for their testimony.

According to court papers, investigators had "uncovered significant additional evidence that suggests that the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations in order to obtain a host economic benefits, including loans and insurance coverage as well as tax deductions."

The Trump Organization stated in a statement that Letitia James was the only one who is misleading the public.

They wrote that "She defrauded New Yorkers" by relying on her whole candidacy on Trump's promise to get him at all costs, without seeing any evidence and in violation every ethical rule. "Three Years later, she is faced with the harsh reality that she doesn't have a case."

Trump's legal team tried to block the subpoenas calling them "unconstitutional and unprecedented."

Trump sued James last month in federal court to stop her investigation. His lawyers claimed that James, a Democrat attorney general, had violated Republican's constitutional rights in a thinly disguised effort to publicly denigrate Trump and his associates.

The Republican ex-president used to decry James' investigation and Bragg’s probe as part a "witch hunting."

James office released a statement late Tuesday stating that they have not decided whether to pursue legal action but stated that the evidence so far supports the conclusion of the investigation.

James stated that the Trump Organization used litigation and delay tactics for more than two decades to block a legitimate investigation into their financial dealings. "We have so far discovered significant evidence that Donald J. Trump's Organization fraudulently valued multiple assets, and misrepresented these values to financial institutions for their economic benefit.

James' civil investigation is distinct from her criminal investigation. However, her office has been involved with both and dispatched several lawyers to work side by side with Manhattan D.A.'s prosecutors.

James' office stated that it can seek "a wide range of remedies" against companies accused of commercial fraud under state law. This includes revoking a state license, moving to have an officer removed from the board of directors and restitution or disgorgement of ill earned gains.

James' office stated in court papers that evidence showed Trump's company was:

-- He listed his Seven Springs estate north-of New York City at $291 million based on the dubious assumption it could earn $161 million by building nine luxury homes.

-- A "brand premium" was added to some properties' values to reflect Trump's name. Financial statements clearly stated that they did not include brand value.

By counting fees that were not sold or never paid, he inflated the value of a New York suburb golf club to millions of dollars.

Park Avenue condo tower valued at $350 million based on the potential proceeds from unsold units. Many of those apartments would have been more likely to sell because they were protected by rent stabilization laws.

An apartment being rented to Ivanka was valued at $25 million even though it had the option to be purchased for $8.5 million.

According to documents, its stake in 40 Wall Street was worth between $525 million and $602 million. This figure is two to three times that of Capital One's appraisers.

A judge ruled in James' favor on an earlier request to interview Eric Trump, a Trump Organization executive. He eventually sat down for deposition, but refused to answer certain questions.

The Manhattan District Attorney brought tax fraud charges against Trump Organization and Weisselberg last year. Weisselberg was its long-serving chief financial officer.

Weisselberg has pleaded not guilty in the absence of evidence that he and his company evaded taxes on lucrative fringe benefit payments paid to executives.

These investigations are at most partially related to claims made by Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, that Trump has a history of misrepresenting assets' value.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump's ally, and other members were also subpoenaed to the House Committee investigating the U.S. Capitol Insurrection.

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