A Mexican government official filed a federal criminal tax fraud complaint Friday against Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE in Tijuana, Mexico, related to Trump Ocean Resort, a real estate project that folded in 2009.
Jaime Martínez Veloz, a former member of Mexico’s Congress who is now a mid-level official with the Mexican federal government, also sent a letter to the mayor of Tijuana, asking city hall to determine if any local regulations were violated by the failed development.
Martínez filed the criminal complaint as a private citizen. Under the Mexican legal system, private criminal complaints are filed directly to prosecutors, not to the police.
In the letter, Martínez said he’d filed a complaint seeking for federal charges against the GOP presidential nominee so that “once legal requirements demanded by national laws are gathered, the corresponding legal action can be executed,” reported La Jornada newspaper.
The complaint alleges that the development avoided paying taxes in Mexico on pre-development sales, which reportedly topped $32.5 million. Trump’s presidential campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump and his partners, Los Angeles-based developer Irongate Wilshire and Mexican company P.B. Impulsores, allegedly collected $32.5 million from customers before giving up on the project. Trump Ocean Resort started selling the properties in 2006, but folded before construction had started in 2009 after the housing crash.
Martínez singled out Trump in the complaint, saying the slow start in construction evidenced tax fraud "by Mr. Donald Trump against the Mexican state because beyond defrauding investors he also committed fraud by not paying taxes in Mexico for the mercantile operations he took part in."
It’s not clear if Trump received any of the $32.5 million that was collected, or if he did, how much he received. Irongate and P.B. Impulsores later agreed to return at least $7.25 million to the purchasers.
In subsequent lawsuits, Trump and the Trump Organization claimed that the Republican presidential nominee had merely leased his name to the project, and was not directly involved in the development.
But purchasers said Trump gave the impression that he was personally involved in the project.
The brochure for the resort included a picture of Trump and quoted him as saying it would be “the most spectacular place in all of Mexico,” according to the LA Times.
The Trump Ocean Resort is not the only Mexican deal that has gone south for the billionaire developer.
In 2007, Trump struck a deal to take his Miss Universe pageant to Mexico, and properties on the Mayan Riviera were set as collateral. After that deal went sour, Trump allegedly won the land in arbitration, but was unable to collect.
Years later, Trump tweeted about that case, saying, “don't do business with Mexico!”
I have a lawsuit in Mexico’s corrupt court system that I won but so far can’t collect. Don’t do business with Mexico!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2015
Trump has proposed the renegotiation or cancellation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and to build a wall on the border with Mexico. He has also called for a 35 percent tariff on products made by American companies in Mexico.