An aerial view of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home after Trump said that FBI agents raided it, in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. August 15, 2022.
Marco Bello | Reuters
A bombshell lawsuit against former President Donald Trump filed Wednesday contains a head-spinning amount of detail about real estate, loans and other financial arrangements that New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges were elements of a wide-ranging fraud that spanned years.
James claims that Trump and his company, the Trump Organization fraudulently manipulated the valuations of properties owned by the company to obtain better terms on loans and insurance and to lower their tax burdens. Trump strongly denies any wrongdoing.
Here are some highlights from the civil suit, which names Trump but his three oldest children, the Trump Organization, and two company executives as defendants.
- Statements of Financial Condition: Between 2011 and 2021, Trump’s annual Statements of Financial Condition, which purported to state his net worth, “were fraudulent and misleading,” inflating his net worth falsely by billions of dollars each year, James’ office said. The statements included valuations of properties and other assets that also were allegedly fraudulent and misleading.
- Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida: This property was valued at as much as $739 million on the “false premise that it was unrestricted property and could be developed and sold for residential use, even though Mr. Trump himself signed deeds donating his residential development rights, sharply restricting changes to the property, and limiting the permissible use of the property to a social club,” James’ office said. “In reality, the club generated annual revenues of less than $25 million and should have been valued at closer to $75 million.”
- Seven Springs, Westchester County, New York: A 212-acre estate, which Trump bought in 1995 for $7.5 million, was valued at up to $291 million in the past decade based on claims that the property had zoning for nine mansions that could be sold for a profit of more than $161 million. “These values were a fiction, totally unsupported by the development history of the property and contradicted by every professional valuation done on the property,” James’ office said.
- Trump International Hotel & Tower, Chicago: This property’s value has not been included on Trump’s financial statements since 2009 “because, according to sworn testimony, Mr. Trump did not want to take a position that would conflict with his contention to tax authorities that the property had become worthless, and thus formed the basis of a substantial loss under the federal tax code,” James’ office said. But in 2012, Trump and his company obtained a $107 million loan on the property from Deutsche Bank, using the building or its components as collateral. “The loan received a $45 million expansion in 2014,” James’ office said.
- Trump Old Post Office, Washington, D.C.: The Trump Organization’ obtained a $170 million loan from Deutsche Bank to develop this property into a luxury hotel on favorable terms as a result of the loan being personally guaranteed on the basis of Trump’s financial statements. “Any misrepresentation on those statements would constitute a default under the terms of the loan,” James’ office noted. “In May 2022, the Trump Organization sold the Old Post Office property for $375 million. As a result, Mr. Trump obtained more than $100 million in net profit, which was the result of the loan he was able to obtain by using his false and misleading statements.”
- Trump Aberdeen: This golf course in Scotland had a $327 million valuation largely based on the assumption that 2,500 homes could be developed. In reality, the suit said, the Trump Organization only had obtained zoning approval to develop less than 1,500 cottages and apartments.
- Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter, Florida: Just a year after Trump bought the property for $5 million, he valued it at $62 million. “The golf course was valued using a fixed-asset approach even though that was not an acceptable method for valuing an operating golf course,” James’ office said.
- Trump Tower Triplex: The suit says Trump’s personal triplex apartment in Manhattan was valued as being 30,000 square feet when it actually just under 11,000 square feet. Because of the misstatement, in 2015 the apartment was valued at $327 million, or $29,738 per square foot. “That price was absurd given the fact that at that point only one apartment in New York City had ever sold for even $100 million, at a price per square foot of less than $10,000, and that sale was in a newly built, ultra-tall tower,” James’ office said. “In 30-year-old Trump Tower, the record sale at that time was a mere $16.5 million at a price of less than $4,500 per square foot.”
- Trump Park Avenue in Manhattan: The property was valued on Trump’s financial statements at between $90.9 million and $350 million from 2011 to 2021. “Reported values of the unsold residential units of the Trump Park Avenue building were significantly higher than the internal valuations used by the Trump Organization for business planning and failed to account for the fact that many units were rent-stabilized,” James’ office said. “For example, an outside, bank-ordered appraisal in 2010 valued the 12 rent-stabilized at $750,000 total. Yet, in the 2011 and 2012 statements, the rent-stabilized apartments at Trump Park Avenue were valued as market rate for nearly $50 million total.” And in July 2020, the Trump Organization received an appraisal that valued the property at $84.5 million. But on its 2020 financial statement, the company valued Trump Park Avenue at $135.8 million.
- 40 Wall Street in Manhattan: “The Trump Organization received a bank-ordered appraisal for the commercial property at 40 Wall Street that calculated a value for the property of $220 million as of November 1, 2012,” James’ office said. “Yet in the statement that year and the next year (2013), 40 Wall Street was valued at $527 million and $530 million — more than twice the value calculated by the independent, professional appraisers.”
- Vornado Partnership: The suit said that for several years, Trump’s financial statements included cash that was held by this entity. In reality, Trump had a minority stake in Vornado Partnership and did not control it, the suit said. “In some years these restricted funds accounted for almost one-third of all the cash reported by Mr. Trump,” James’ office said.