At this point, President Trump is wrapped up in so many scandals, it’s getting hard to keep them all straight. In addition to his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia and multiple accusations of violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, The Toronto Star also reported on Friday that all of the people who invested in Trump’s Toronto Tower have lost money — except for him.
Trump insisted on investing in the tower — which no longer bears his name — even though it has been embroiled in controversy practically since construction first begun in 2001.
The tower’s lead developer, Leib Waldman, fled to Canada after he faced embezzlement and fraud charges in the U.S. He was eventually detained and sent to prison. Nevertheless, Trump insisted that having his name on the project would make it a success.
An investigation by The Toronto Star and Columbia Journalism Investigations in New York found that the hotel, which went bankrupt in 2016, was crippled by inexperienced partners and “an unorthodox foreign financing deal.”
About the building’s failure, Toronto lawyer Marc Senderowitz, who represented four minority investors in the project, told The Star:
‘It’s pretty hard to make a mess of a real-estate investment (in Toronto). In retrospect, I could have taken their money, bought a small commercial building and sat on it for 15 years … Things just went off the rails.’
The project itself performed terribly, but Trump still came out ahead.
According to John Latimer, a former Toronto developer who briefly worked on the project, Trump “never put money in; he just took money out.”
In 2001, Trump started telling reporters that he had made a “substantial” investment in the Toronto tower. He continued bragging about this investment well into 2007. Then, in 2011, it was revealed that he only had a contract to license out his name and manage the hotel.
‘He showed up when they broke ground, did a press conference … and walked away.’
When the tower’s ribbon cutting finally took place, two years after it was originally scheduled, many of its hotel rooms remained empty. Buyers also were disappointed in their condos and tried to auction them off. Others filed lawsuits claiming that their projected profits had been misrepresented.
Clearly, the Trump name was not enough to guarantee the tower’s success. Trump’s management also left much to be desired. According to Sanderowitz:
‘(Trump) wasn’t hands on. He just delegated everything. His own management style was literally chaotic.’
It’s still unclear at this time how much money Trump received from the failed project.
Trump’s public financial disclosure documents show that he collected $1.7 million (U.S.) in management fees between 2014 and 2016. When his name was removed from the building’s exterior, he also received a payout of at least $6 million (Canadian).
The Trump Organization refused to comment on the situation. However, one source familiar with the project told The Toronto Star:
‘I don’t know why it failed. It’s a mystery to me. The only thing I can really conclude is the Trump brand didn’t have popularity in Toronto.’
That statement certainly seems to be accurate. In July, the video of Trump’s name being removed quickly went viral online, proving that the president isn’t any more popular in Canada than he is in the U.S.
Featured image via T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images.