Press "Enter" to skip to content

New York attorney general probing whether Trump Organization inflated property values

Eric Trump is accusing New York’s attorney general of ‘prosecutorial misconduct’ after her office asked a  a court in Manhattan to force him to testify in a probe of Trump Organization assets a day before he is set to speak at the Republican convention.  

‘Without any basis, the NYAG has pledged to take my father down from the moment she ran for office,’ the president’s son tweeted hours after AG Letitia James’ office submitted a legal filing in the case.

‘This is the highest level of prosecutorial misconduct – purposely dropped on the eve of the Republican Convention for political points. Sad that this is her focus as New York burns,’ he said in a reference to violent protests.

He attached to his tweet a clip of James telling an interviewer how she responds to people who say their vote doesn’t matter. ‘I say one name: Donald Trump. That should motivate you. Get off your a** and vote.’

She also promises to be ‘a real pain in the a**’ and sue him, and says of Trump: ‘He’s going to get to know my name personally.’   

The state attorney general’s office is investigating whether the Trump Organization and Donald Trump improperly inflated the value of the U.S. president’s assets on annual financial statements in order to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits, according to a court filing.

The disclosure was made in a filing on Monday with a New York state court in Manhattan, where the James’ office wants to compel the Trump Organization, Donald Trump’s son Eric, and several other defendants to comply with subpoenas it issued.

According to the filing, the subpoenas were issued as part of the attorney general’s ‘ongoing confidential civil investigation into potential fraud or illegality.’ 

James said Eric Trump, an executive vice president at the Trump Organization, was ‘intimately involved’ in one or more transactions being reviewed, and refused to show up for a scheduled interview pursuant to a subpoena. 

It says the Trump Organization has ‘refused entirely’ to make Eric Trump available, calling the move ‘unlawful.’ 

James said she began her probe after Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen testified before the U.S. Congress that the president’s financial statements inflated the value of some assets to save money on loans and insurance, and deflated the value of other assets to reduce real estate taxes.

Four properties are being probed, including the 212-acre Seven Springs Estate in northern Westchester County, north of New York City, whose valuations were used to claim an apparent $21.1 million tax deduction for 2015.

Other properties include 40 Wall Street in downtown Manhattan, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, and the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. 

James’ office stated in a legal filing that her office ‘is currently investigating whether the Trump Organization and Donald J. Trump (Mr. Trump) improperly inflated the value of Mr. Trump’s assets on annual financial statements in order to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.’

The filing continued: ‘One particular focus of this inquiry, as relevant here, is whether the Trump Organization and its agents improperly inflated, or caused to be improperly inflated, the value of the Seven Springs Estate.’

But it states: ‘OAG has not concluded its investigation and has not reached a determination regarding whether the facts identified to date establish violations of law.’

James’ office said valuations of the Seven Springs Estate were used to claim an apparent $21.1 million tax deduction in the 2015 tax year, and in submissions to financial institutions as a component of Donald Trump’s net worth. 

The Washington Post reported that in 2011, Trump claimed in a financial statement that Seven Springs, having been ‘zoned for nine luxurious homes,’ was valued at $261 million, although local assessors put it at $20 million. At that point he did not have approval to subdivide the property. 

Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten echoed Eric Trump’s accusation of politics in the filing. The AG’s ‘continued harassment of the company as we approach the election (and filing of this motion on the first day of the Republican National Convention) once again confirms that this investigation is all about politics,’ he said.

The filing to compel Eric Trump to speak to investigators comes just a day before he is set to address the nation on Day Two of the Republican National Convention. 

Although he has not been as outspoken politically as his older brother Donald Trump Jr. Eric and his wife Lara hold prominent roles in their father’s campaing effort.

The campaign blasted out a fundraising appeal Monday where Eric is quoted saying: ‘Make no mistake, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are 100% controlled by the Left-wing MOB.’

‘Staying on track is SO IMPORTANT that President Trump has authorized a short-term, 500 percent MATCH on your next contribution,’ he said in an email that did not say who was doing the matching. 

Lawyers for the Trump Organization and Eric Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to James’ office, the Trump Organization and others have already produced ‘significant amounts’ of material responsive to the subpoenas, but the parties have reached an ‘impasse’ on some issues.

It also said there has been no determination regarding whether any laws were broken. 

In the court filings, the attorney general’s office wrote that ‘information regarding the valuation of Seven Springs is significant’ to the office’s investigation.

The Trump Organization said James’ investigation was politically motivated.

‘While we have tried to cooperate in good faith with the investigation at every turn, the NYAG’s continued harassment of the company as we approach the election (and filing of this motion on the first day of the Republican National Convention) once again confirms that this investigation is all about politics,’ according to an emailed statement from the organization. ‘We will respond to this motion as appropriate.’  

While the Trump Organization and others have already produced ‘significant amounts’ of subpoenaed materials, James’ office said the parties are at an impasse over some materials.

‘For months, the Trump Organization has made baseless claims in an effort to shield evidence from a lawful investigation into its financial dealings,’ James said in a statement. 

‘They have stalled, withheld documents, and instructed witnesses, including Eric Trump, to refuse to answer questions under oath.’  

James’ office issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization and to Seven Springs LLC in December 2019, seeking financial documents, the filing said. Since then, both have ‘engaged in extensive good-faith discussions concerning the Trump Organization´s compliance with the subpoenas.’

The attorney general´s office is also attempting to collect information about several other Trump-related properties, including the Trump National Golf Club near Los Angeles, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago and an office building on Wall Street in Manhattan where the Trump Organization ‘owns a `ground lease´ pertaining to the property.’ 

Although the two sides clashed over testimony, Eric Trump, who helps run the Trump Organization along with his brother Don Jr. and an executive, gushed about the property to Forbes in a 2017 interview.

‘This is a place that’s really special to myself, that’s really special to my brother, my father, really the whole family. This is really our compound. I’ve spent so much of my life here and I’ve spent so much time learning really the art of the deal on this property. It’s a special place for me,’ he said.

He spoke about original builder Eugene Meyer, former publisher of the Washington Post.  

‘He wanted to have the most opulent house in the world and that’s really what he created here,’ Eric Trump said.  He said they bought the property from Rockefeller University in 1996 for $7.5 million. 

After spending years seeking to build a golf course on the property’s 230 acres, the Trump Organization won permission from local authorities to build 14 houses on the site an subdivide it. 

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *