Factbox-Six key claims about the Trump Organization by New York’s attorney general

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FILE PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks in Sarasota

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK – New York state Attorney General Letitia James said on Tuesday she had found “significant evidence” of fraud by former U.S. President Donald Trump’s family business.

James’ civil investigation into the Trump Organization, which has real estate holdings around the world, is focusing https://www.reuters.com/business/ny-attorney-general-seeks-testimony-trump-his-children-legal-action-over-2022-01-19 on claims the company exaggerated property valuations to get bank loans and misled the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about the values of its properties in order to minimize its tax bill.

A Trump Organization spokesperson on Wednesday said James’ allegations were “baseless” and misrepresented the facts.

Here are six key claims James has made about the Trump Organization’s business:

THE SIZE OF TRUMP’S MANHATTAN APARTMENT

James said Trump’s annual financial statements, which were prepared by the Trump Organization, had since 2012 based a $127 million valuation of an apartment that Trump personally owned in Trump Tower on the claim that the unit was 30,000 square feet (2,787 square meters) in size.

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But the apartment was in fact 10,996 square feet, a fact contained in documents Trump himself signed in 2012, according to James.

EXAGGERATING PROPERTY VALUES

Property valuations included in the financial statements in some cases exceeded the Trump Organization’s own internal estimates, James said on Tuesday.

For example, Trump’s 2011 financial statement indicated that an apartment at the Trump Park Avenue building that Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, was renting had a value of $25 million. But Ivanka Trump held an option to purchase that apartment for $8.5 million, James said.

APPRAISALS

When independent appraisers’ valuations were lower than the company’s own estimates, the Trump Organization did not disclose the outside firms’ findings, James said.

For example, the company in 2012 valued Seven Springs, a 212-acre property it purchased in 1995 in New York’s Westchester County, at $291 million, she said.

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But in 2016, a professional appraisal valued the property at just $56 million, James said.

TAX BREAKS

The Trump Organization also exaggerated the values of land donations it made at its properties that qualified the company for tax breaks, resulting in “several million dollars of benefit to Mr. Trump,” James said.

At Seven Springs, the company agreed not to develop 158 acres of the property in 2015. But around half the lots the Trump Organization agreed not to develop as part of that so-called conservation easement could not have been developed anyway due to local restrictions, James said.

INITIATION FEES

In many cases, the factors the Trump Organization used to value its properties were unrealistic, James said. For example, in 2014, according to James, Trump’s $436 million valuation for a golf club in Aberdeen, Scotland, assumed the right to build 2,500 luxury homes on the property, even though he had approval to build fewer than 1,500 holiday apartments and golf villas.

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And a $68.7 million valuation for a Westchester golf club in 2007 was based in part on the expectation that up to 67 potential new members would pay initiation fees of $150,000 or more. But many new members paid no deposit at all in 2011, and no members paid such fees in 2012, James said.


MISSTATEMENTS TO INSURANCE COMPANIES

To obtain more favorable insurance coverage, James said the Trump Organization on multiple occasions told underwriters that the valuations listed in Trump’s personal financial statements were prepared by professional appraisal firms, when in fact they were prepared by the company’s own staff.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Mark Porter)

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