State Watch

New York prosecutors eye Trump Organization property valuations: report

New York prosecutors are reportedly looking into the Trump Organization’s property valuations after discovering that the company provided different estimates on a number of properties.

The Washington Post reported on Monday, citing public records and people familiar with the matter, that the New York attorney general’s office and Manhattan district attorney are examining the Trump Organization’s valuations of different properties across the country after discovering that the estimates differed depending on who was requesting the information.

In 2012, the Trump Organization said its office building at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan was worth $527 million, according to the Post, which would rank it as one of the most valuable properties in New York. A few months later, however, the company told property tax officials that the building was actually worth $16.7 million, according to city records cited by the Post.

That building and others are now being scrutinized by the New York attorney general and the Manhattan district attorney, the newspaper reported. They are reportedly looking to see if the company violated the law by telling property tax officers that their properties were worth less than they were or by using higher valuations in an effort to get tax breaks or impress lenders.

The Post reported that prosecutors are specifically looking into former President Trump’s golf club in California, noting the land was valued at $900,000 in one setting and $25 million in another. A property in suburban New York, which has valuations from $56 million to $291 million, is also being scrutinized, according to the Post.

All of the valuations were reportedly provided in the five years prior to when Trump won the White House in 2016.

The Manhattan district attorney declined to comment. The Hill has reached out to the New York attorney general’s office for comment.

“This is a total political witch-hunt. New York is being overrun by violence, children are being been shot in Times Square, homelessness is through the roof yet the only focus of the New York DA and AG is to ‘get’ Trump,” a spokesperson for the Trump Organization told The Hill.

“This nonsense has been going on for four years. Similar to the Russia scam, millions of taxpayer dollars have and continue to be wasted, all while New York burns. These investigators made it a campaign promise to get Trump  it is disgusting and a travesty to our legal system,” the spokesperson added.

The reported examination from New York state officials comes months after prosecutors filed various fraud and conspiracy charges against the Trump Organization and its then-chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, accusing the longtime executive of helping orchestrate a scheme to compensate himself and others at the company in an “off the books” manner.

Weisselberg, who has since resigned from the company, pleaded not guilty to all 15 charges against him, which include tax fraud, conspiracy, grand larceny and falsifying business records. Both he and the organization have denied any wrongdoing.

The Post reported a grand jury that could vote on criminal charges over the differing property valuations was convened by prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is reportedly mulling filing a lawsuit.

The prosecutors are reportedly looking at court papers, emails, planning documents and financial data. Additionally, they asked officials in Los Angeles for the geology reports for the rock layers that are located under Trump’s golf course, which has seen its valuation change because of landslides at the location, according to the Post.

The newspaper reported that officials have also tried to obtain records from the appraisal firm and the law firm that worked with the Trump administration to come to the valuations. The firms did not respond to questions from the Post.

It is a felony to falsify business records, file false documents with the government or make untrue statements on sworn documents in New York.

In the Empire State, however, those regulations require proof of intent, meaning prosecutors will have to show that individuals purposely made false statements to trick someone or conceal a crime. 

Tags Allen Weisselberg Donald Trump

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