- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2022

New York Attorney General Letitia James late Tuesday accused former President Donald Trump’s business of repeatedly misrepresenting the value of its assets, although state officials haven’t decided whether to bring a lawsuit against the Trump Organization in connection with the allegations.

Ms. James’ office told a court that investigators must question Mr. Trump and his two oldest children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, as part of the investigation.

“[The Office of the Attorney General] has identified facts and evidence indicating that the annual financial statements, tax submissions, and other documents under investigation contain material misstatements and omissions,” the filing said. “It intends to make a final determination about who is responsible for those misstatements and omissions.”

Investigators said they needed direct testimony to get to the bottom of allegations outlined in the document. 

However, the former president and his attorneys say the probe is politically motivated and have moved to block subpoenas.

The court papers allege the Trump Organization offered financial information to banks, lenders and insurers that did not match what it said to its accounting firm, including the size of Mr. Trump’s penthouse in Trump Tower and mischaracterizing some assets as cash, overstating its liquidity.

Among other claims, the investigators said the business inflated the value of its Seven Springs estate north of New York City, a suburban New York golf club and a Park Avenue condominium tower.

With more specifics listed in the court papers, Ms. James’ office said evidence shows that Mr. Trump’s company:

• Listed his Seven Springs estate north of New York City as being worth $291 million, based on the dubious assumption that it could reap $161 million from building nine luxury homes.

• Added a “brand premium” of 15% to 30% to the value of some properties because they carried the Trump name, despite financial statements explicitly stating they didn’t incorporate brand value.

• Inflated the value of a suburban New York golf club by millions of dollars by counting fees for memberships that weren’t sold or were never paid.

• Valued a Park Avenue condominium tower at $350 million, based on proceeds it could reap from unsold units, even though many of those apartments were likely to sell for less because they were covered by rent stabilization laws.

• Valued an apartment being rented to Ivanka Trump at as high as $25 million, even though she had an option to buy it for $8.5 million.

• Said in documents that its stake in an office building, 40 Wall Street, was worth $525 million to $602 million — between two to three times the estimate reached by appraisers working for the lender Capital One.

Ms. James’ investigation is civil in nature although she is working with the Manhattan district attorney, which is engaged in a criminal probe.

She asked the court to “enforce its subpoenas without further delay.”

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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