Criminal Investigation Of Trump Tax Fraud Accelerates In NY


Although criminal charges against the Trump company and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, have already been issued over a sprawling, years-long tax evasion scheme, the criminal investigation by New York authorities into the Trump company that led to those charges is continuing. Now, as reported by The Washington Post, investigators are training their sights on valuations of certain Trump properties, an issue that was first raised awhile ago but which was temporarily overtaken by the tax evasion. As the Post explains, “prosecutors now appear to be examining whether the company broke the law by providing low values to property tax officers, while using high ones to garner tax breaks or impress lenders.”

The properties under scrutiny include an office building that sits at 40 Wall Street within New York City. In 2012, the company informed possible lenders that the building was worth $527 million — and then it told tax officials merely a few months down the line that the building was worth merely $16.7 million. As explained by the Post, other properties that are under investigation in this matter include a “California golf club, for which [Trump] valued the same parcel of land at $900,000 and $25 million depending on the intended audience, and an estate in suburban New York, for which Trump’s valuations ranged from $56 million up to $291 million.” These vast differences between valuations for the exact same properties — with the valuations having been released relatively soon after one another — could be evidence of criminal activity.

The Post reports that investigators “appear to have dug deeply into these properties, according to court papers and people familiar with the investigation,” adding: “They have compiled reams of emails, planning documents and financial data, even seeking the initiation fees Trump charged golf club members as far back as a decade ago. In Los Angeles, they have asked for geology reports on the rock layers under Trump’s course — where the value was affected by a history of landslides.” Prosecutors have also sought records from the appraisal firm known as Cushman & Wakefield and a law firm called Morgan Lewis — those running the probe have accused the Trump company and Morgan Lewis of at times exerting pressure on appraisers to produce findings more favorable to Trump’s business.

Going forward, the Post notes — per remarks from experts — that prosecutors would need to prove corrupt intent on the Trump company’s part. Former Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen’s testimony to Congress helped alert investigators to the issues with the Trump company’s valuations of its properties; Cohen has long since broken with Trump. In the meantime, a trial on the tax evasion charges is slated for late next year. That issue involves a failure to pay the appropriate taxes on high-dollar executive benefits doled out at the company. Check out more regarding these issues ensnaring the ex-president at this link.