Business

Manhattan prosecutors subpoena additional records as they zero in on Trump’s claims about his property values

donald trump touching head
US President Donald Trump attends the National Prayer Breakfast at a hotel in Washington, DC on February 8, 2018.

  • Manhattan prosecutors are zeroing in on Trump’s claims about his property values, NYT reported.
  • They recently subpoenaed records for Trump properties and interviewed a Deutsche Bank employee.
  • The move signals a shift from investigators’ earlier focus on tax evasion schemes. 

Prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office recently issued new subpoenas for records of former President Donald Trump’s properties including hotels, golf clubs, and offices, The New York Times reported.

It’s a sign that prosecutors, nearing the end of a years-long investigation into Trump’s business dealings, are again zeroing in on his claims about the value of his properties.

Outgoing Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. launched the criminal probe after Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, testified to Congress that his boss artificially inflated and deflated the value of his properties for loan and tax purposes.

Most of the charges stemming from the investigation so far have focused on tax-related schemes; earlier this year, prosecutors indicted the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg, on 15 felony counts including tax fraud and grand larceny.

They said the alleged criminal conduct was carried out as part of a “sweeping and audacious payment scheme” and that Weisselberg personally did not pay taxes on $1.7 million of his income dating back to March 2005. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Now, reports say, investigators are again homing in on Trump’s assertions about the value of his properties, and the Manhattan DA also convened a new grand jury this month to consider additional charges.

The Washington Post reported that among other things, prosecutors are scrutinizing a Trump-owned building located at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan. Property records reviewed by The Post showed that the Trump Organization told lenders in 2012 that the building was worth $527 million, but a few months later told tax officials that it was worth just $16.7 million. Tax experts have previously said the discrepancy could point to a ploy to pay lower property taxes.

Trump lawyers reportedly don’t want to hand over files

The Trump Organization has resisted turning over some of the documents prosecutors subpoenaed, according to the Times. Prosecutors for weeks have sparred in sealed court hearings with the company’s lawyers over evidence they would be permitted to use in a case, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year.

In February, the Supreme Court ruled that the company had to comply with earlier subpoenas issued by Vance’s team. The subpoenas permitted prosecutors to obtain tax filings, as well as records related to how property valuations were determined. In September, prosecutors said in court that they had around 600,000 pages of discovery material for the July indictment alone.

The Times reported that in addition to subpoenaing records for Trump properties, investigators also recently interviewed an employee at Deutsche Bank, which has long been Trump’s main lender and drawn scrutiny for its willingness to loan him money when most other banks denied him.

The report also said that prosecutors told Trump Organization COO Matthew Calamari that they don’t currently plan to charge him with crimes related to the tax-evasion scheme Weisselberg and the Trump Organization were indicted for. Calamari’s son, Matthew Calamari Jr., is also employed at the Trump Organization and testified in front of a grand jury in September.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has painted Vance’s investigation as a politically motivated witch hunt. He also excoriated New York Attorney General Tish James — whose office opened a separate civil inquiry into Trump but joined Vance’s criminal investigation earlier this year — as going on a fishing expedition for political reasons.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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