The Manhattan district attorney and the New York attorney general are examining multiple instances in which the Trump Organization offered significantly different appraisals of its properties to government authorities and possible lenders.
Prosecutors are expected to be presenting evidence before a second special grand jury in Manhattan for their long-running probe into the Trump Organization’s finances. At least four of former President Donald Trump’s properties appear to be the focus of investigations: an office building at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan; a golf club in Rancho Palos Verdes, California; an estate called Seven Springs in Westchester County, New York; and a golf club in Briarcliff Manor, New York.
According to documents acquired, Trump’s corporation valued these assets up to 30 times greater depending on who received the figures. The Trump Organization informed tax authorities in 2012 that the Manhattan office building was only worth $16.7 million. However, it was discovered that the corporation had valued the identical property at a whopping $527 million in a document submitted to potential financiers only a few months previously.
In another case, the Trump Organization informed county tax authorities in 2013 that its California golf club was worth $900,000. However, in 2014, when the corporation was looking for a big tax break via a conservation easement, it said that the same site was worth at least $25 million. It was in Trump’s financial interest to exaggerate the property’s worth while requesting an easement, which restricts commercial use of the site, since it would result in a higher tax deduction.
It is a violation of NY penal law 187.25. If Trump Organization is convicted of this felony, he could face up to 25 years in jail. He could also face a probation term of up to 5 years and a hefty fine.
Or Weisselburg, or Calamari. This would depend on who points the finger at who first.
In 2020, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. collected reams of documents from the Trump Organization in response to subpoenas. Tax forms and contacts between business executives and third-party tax preparers may be included in the record, which may give insight on how the corporation arrived at the various property values.
Vance is believed to be working with the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James – a Democrat who just declared her candidacy for governor — to determine if the variations in property value amounted to tax, bank, or insurance fraud. James is also conducting a parallel civil inquiry, which might lead to a lawsuit against the corporation.
Jeff Robbins, a former US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations attorney and federal prosecutor leading money-laundering investigations, has stated that having two sets of records might imply the Trump Organization violated financial rules.
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“Inconsistency is not a crime. The intent to defraud is a crime,” Robbins told Insider. “What a prosecutor is going to be looking at is: Did Trump seek to defraud the government of the United States with respect to the valuation of assets and the paying of taxes? Was there an intent to defraud banks?”
Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime “fixer” and attorney, testified to Congress in 2019 that Trump routinely overstated his wealth and the value of his assets to insurers and lenders, only to undervalue them to pay less in taxes. Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison in 2018 for breaching campaign finance rules in order to assist Trump in the 2016 election, lying to Congress, and other financial crimes.
Prosecutors are also looking into whether Trump Organization officials evaded paying taxes by enjoying tax-free privileges like as residences and corporate vehicles. In July, another grand jury convened by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York Attorney General’s Office charged the Trump Organization on felony tax fraud charges, saying it conducted a 15-year plan to assist senior executives in evading income taxes. The grand jury also indicted the Trump Organization’s longstanding Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, charging that he managed the plan and personally dodged income taxes on nearly $1.7 million in business benefits.
Trump has mostly rejected the probes, accusing Democrats of hunting for evidence of wrongdoing. Earlier this year, he branded the New York investigations “a continuation of the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of the United States.”