A court document filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James says Ivanka Trump was given the option to buy a luxury NYC apartment from the Trump Organization for a third of the value listed on company financial statements.
Ivanka had an option to purchase the Park Avenue apartment for $8.5 million, according to the court order seeking testimony filed by the AG’s office, after leasing it on ‘extraordinarily favorable terms’.
But her father Donald Trump, on his Statement of Financial Condition over several years listed values of the apartment at between $20,820,000 and $25,000,000, according to the document.
The same document reveals that her brother, Eric Trump, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 500 times over six hours of testimony – amid a parallel criminal investigation.
They are among the allegations of accounting tricks and unusual financial arrangements spelled out in court documents filed by James’ office seeking to compel testimony by the former president, Ivanka and Eric Trump in their civil investigation of Trump’s real estate and hospitality empire.
James’ office mentions the apartment in a filing that alleges the Trump Organization pumped up valuations when communicating with lenders, but provided low-ball estimates to tax authorities.
Ivanka Trump had an option to purchase a Park Avenue apartment leased to her by her father’s company for $8.5 million, according to the court order seeking testimony filed by the AG’s office. But the firm listed its value as high as $25 million in financial statements
Park Avenue Apartment with ‘extraordinarily favorable terms’
The AG argues the president’s daughter, who served as an unpaid White House aide when Trump was in office, should have testify.
‘Given Ivanka Trump’s involvement in these and other matters, her testimony plainly bears a reasonable relation to the matters under investigation by OAG and must be compelled,’ according to the filing.
It states her ‘knowledge’ of the financial statements, and says Ivanka ‘also has relevant information regarding the valuation of assets contained therein. In particular, she was able to ask for and access financial summaries and projections covering properties or businesses in the Trump Organization portfolio.’
According to a Trump Organization website, the building is ‘idyllically situated near Central Park, world-renowned restaurants, shopping and some of Manhattan’s most prestigious schools’
Ivanka had an option to purchase the Park Avenue apartment for $8.5 million, according to the court order seeking testimony filed by the AG’s office, after leasing it on ‘extraordinarily favorable terms’. Ivanka is seen in the apartment with two of her kids
Ivanka’s father father Donald Trump, on his Statement of Financial Condition over several years listed values of the apartment at between $20,820,000 and $25,000,000, according to the document. Ivanka and Jared’s kids are seen in the apartment
The apartment had room enough for a Steinway baby grand. Ivanka was later given the option to buy a larger unit
Ivanka tweeted images from her apartment on Instagram
New court filings allege complex schemes to overstate the value of company holdings
The highlighted section of the document alleges Ivanka was given the option to purchase the property at a cheaper price
Ivanka paid ‘a monthly rental rate that was a mere fraction per square foot of what other penthouse tenants paid in the building,’ according to the filing.
She rented the apartment at Trump Park Avenue beginning in 2011, according to the filing.
The company’s 2011 and 2012 financial statements were at ‘approximately two and a half times as much as the option price, with no disclosure of the existence of the option.’ In 2013, it was valued at $25 million – ‘more than three times the option price, again, with no disclosure of the existence of the option.’
In 2015, Ivanka got an option to purchase a larger penthouse unit at in the same building for $14 million.
According to a Trump Organization web site, the building is ‘idyllically situated near Central Park, world-renowned restaurants, shopping and some of Manhattan’s most prestigious schools, houses over 120 luxury condominiums in one of the Upper East Side’s most coveted locations.’
‘Refitted with a world-class selection of Italian fixtures, polished hardwoods, and marble finishes, each detail of Trump Park Avenue is meticulously adorned with a sense of sophistication and classicism.’
The New York’s attorney general is seeking a court order to force Donald Trump and his two oldest children to testify in their fraud case, stating that she has ‘uncovered significant evidence’ of financial misconduct.
James has since March 2019 been looking into the tax affairs of the Trump Organization, after former Trump confidante Michael Cohen shed light on its business practices.
James is probing at whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of its assets in a bid to claim tax relief.
James has already been able to obtain some information from Trump Organization officials, including from early participation of Trump family members.
But her office says the flow of key information has stopped.
The Trump Organization ‘has not made anything approaching a complete production of documents for Mr. Trump,’ according to the document.
AG notes that Eric Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment ‘repeatedly’ during deposition
Even as prosecutors seek to compel testimony from Ivanka and Don Jr., they note that Eric Trump, who helped run the company while his father was in office, refused to answer numerous questions.
‘Asked to explain various aspects of the 2012 and 2013 valuations, Eric Trump repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege,’ prosecutors write. They note that he did so when questioned about valuations of the Seven Springs resort.
He acted as a ‘liason’ on the project that led to a ‘multi-million benefit’ to his father.
Prosecutors says the Trump Organization overstated the value of land donations to justify big tax deductions at Seven Springs, at a property they valued at $80 million in 2007 and $291 million five years later, in 2012.
‘For his part, Eric Trump has asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege in declining to answer OAG’s questions on these matters,’ according to prosecutors.
During his 2020 interview, ‘Eric Trump … invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to more than 500 questions over six hours.’
Prosecutors printed verbatim a speech he gave when asked a question about ‘basic background information.’
Cabinets stocked with Trump’s paper files – but no info handed over since July
Company general counsel Alan Garten ‘testified that there were file cabinets at the Trump Organization containing Mr. Trump’s files, that Mr. Trump had assistants who maintained files on his behalf, that he received and maintained hard copy documents, and that he used Post-It Notes to communicate with employees,’ they wrote.
‘Yet as of June 30, 2021 – more than 18 months after receiving the initial subpoena from OAG – the Trump Organization still had not searched for those documents,’ they write.
The AG argues the Trump Organization ‘has not made anything approaching a complete production of documents for Mr. Trump.’
‘While Mr. Trump famously does not use email or a computer, at least according to reports, he regularly generated handwritten documents,’ it says.
Trump to German bank: ‘Hopefully, you will be impressed!’
Even brief missives by the former president could have evidentiary value.
The filing cites a November 2011 note that Trump wrote to Richard Byrne, the Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Bank Securities – the Trump Organization’s primary lender.
Trump enclosed his financial statement with a note, which said: ‘hopefully, you will be impressed!’
The note also ‘touted the prospects of the Doral property, and enclosed a separate letter that ‘establishes my brand value, which is not included in my net worth statement.’
James alleges that Trump added a ‘brand premium’ of 15-30 per cent on some properties that carried his name, despite saying in financial statements they didn’t incorporate such value.
Metadata cited by the AG’s office indicate it came from Trump’s custodial files, but there has been no further production from those files since July – an ‘abject failure.’
The Trump Organization called the civil probe ‘baseless’ and politically motivated.
Claimed Trump Tower 11,000 square foot penthouse was 30,000 SF, to the tune of $200 million
James said that the former president claimed his Trump Tower penthouse was 30,000 square feet and worth $327 million, when in fact it was 11,000 square feet and worth a fraction of that.
Trump has long boasted about his triplex apartment, which has been featured in photo-shoots.
But the AG ‘discovered that the valuations of this asset as incorporated into the Statements of Financial Condition since at least 2012 were based on the assertion that the triplex apartment was 30,000 square feet in size.’
Trump claimed, for tax and finance purposes, that his penthouse in Trump Tower was 30,000 square feet, when in fact it was 11,000 square feet
The office cites evidence that longtime Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg and comptroller Jeffrey McConney ‘both participated in such valuations.’
According to James, the misreporting of the size of the penthouse resulted in a difference in value of about $200 million.
Weisselberg was charged last year with tax fraud in a parallel criminal investigation.
He admitted that the value of Trump’s apartment was overstated by ‘give or take’ $200 million.
Mysterious listing of $150,000 Westchester club fees that were waived for some members
He also allegedly inflated the value of his golf course in Scotland, and wrongly stated that members of his Westchester club were paying $150,000 to join.
Trump bought the property for $8.5 million and began listing it on financial documents in 2004. The company listed the value under the heading of ‘Club Facilities and Related Real Estate,’ with a total reaching $68 million in 2011.
A breakdown listed the value of 67 unsold memberships worth $12,775,000, according to the filing.
‘Although the supporting data spreadsheet states that the club was currently “getting $150,000” per membership, the Trump Organization derived $12,775,000 in value by computing a value with 47 of the 67 unsold memberships priced higher than that amount, in many instances by $100,000 each,’ according to the AG.
Furthermore, not every member even paid the initiation fee.
According to records, ‘even the representation that the club was “getting $150,000 per membership” in June 2011 was false: Records indicate that many members paid no deposit for their memberships in 2011.’
Documents obtained by prosecutors connect Trump directly to an effort to boost memberships by waiving fees.
A March 2012 memo says the strategy ‘has been discussed several times with Mr. Trump and will be implemented per his instructions.’
‘The goal was to bring in 75 new members in order to generate maximum revenue for the club and the instructions note that memberships should be sold dues only with no initiation fee in order to achieve that goal,’ according to the AG, who cited records that no new members that year paid initiation fees.
‘Increasing the number of new members and not collecting initiation fees would reduce the remaining number of unsold memberships available for sale and thereby the listed value of Briarcliff on the Statement of Financial Condition. However, after the strategy change directed by Mr. Trump, his Statement of Financial Condition stopped computing the value of the Briarcliff property using unsold memberships,’ according to the filing.
The Trump Organization made valuations based on members paying $150,000 to join his golf club in Westchester County
Prosecutors said financial documents showed some membership fees were priced at $100,000 above the $150,000 the company listed as the cost, while many members recruited to join the club had their fees waived
Letitia James on Tuesday announced she was seeking a subpoena to force Donald Trump and his two eldest children to testify
Eric Trump, far left, was forced to testify in October 2020. Allen Weisselberg (second right) testified in the fall of 2021. James now wants to force Don Jr (far right) and Ivanka to testify. They are all pictured in January 2017
The Trumps misrepresented the value to banks, insurance companies and the IRS, James said.
‘We are taking legal action to force Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump to comply with our investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings,’ said James.
‘No one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them.
‘We have uncovered significant evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations on multiple properties to obtain economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions for years.’
James said that Trump and his son Don Jr, 44, and daughter Ivanka, 40, were being evasive, and it was unacceptable.
‘Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump have all been closely involved in the transactions in question, so we won’t tolerate their attempts to evade testifying in this investigation.
‘We will not be deterred in our efforts to continue this investigation, uncover the facts, and pursue justice, no matter how many roadblocks Mr. Trump and his family throw in our way.’
The court filing said state authorities have not yet decided whether to bring a civil lawsuit in connection with the allegations, but that investigators need to question Trump and his two eldest children as part of the probe.
Company blasts Letitia James
Trump and his lawyers say the investigation is politically motivated.
‘The only one misleading the public is Letitia James,’ the Trump Organization said in a statement.
‘She defrauded New Yorkers by basing her entire candidacy on a promise to get Trump at all costs without having seen a shred of evidence and in violation of every conceivable ethical rule,’ the company said. ‘Three years later she is now faced with the stark reality that she has no case.’
Michael Cohen, who worked for the Trump family for over a decade until he turned on them, and was sentenced to three years in federal prison for tax evasion and campaign finance violations, sparked James’s investigation into the Trump Organization. Cohen is seen on January 3 on a podcast, in a Mea Culpa hoodie
James, pictured on January 6, has said that no one is above the law – even the Trumps
Donald Trump is seen with his son Don Jr and daughter Ivanka during the season six finale of The Apprentice
The Trumps are seen with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in June 2019, during a visit to London
In the court documents, James’ office gave its most detailed accounting yet of its investigation into allegations that Trump’s company repeatedly misstated the value of assets to get favorable loan terms or slash its tax burden.
The Trump Organization, it said, had overstated the value of land donations made in New York and California on paperwork submitted to the IRS to justify several million dollars in tax deductions.
Trump’s Seven Springs estate in Westchester, New York, was also overvalued. In 2004, the Trump Organization valued the property at $80 million; in 2007 they valued it at $200 million; and by 2012, they valued it at $291 million. In 2016 an independent valuer put it at $56 million.
Trump, seen in June 2011 on his Scottish golf course, also inflated the value of the property
Trump’s Seven Springs estate in Westchester, New York, was also overvalued. In 2004, the Trump Organization valued the property at $80 million; in 2007 they valued it at $200 million; and by 2012, they valued it at $291 million. In 2016 an independent valuer put it at $56 million
Trump’s legal team has sought to block the subpoenas, calling them ‘an unprecedented and unconstitutional maneuver.’
They say James is improperly attempting to obtain testimony that could then be used in the parallel criminal investigation, being overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Trump sued James in federal court last month, seeking to put an end to her investigation.
In the suit, his lawyers claimed the attorney general, a Democrat, had violated the Republican’s constitutional rights in a ‘thinly-veiled effort to publicly malign Trump and his associates.’
In the past, the Republican ex-president has decried James’ investigation and Bragg’s probe as part of a ‘witch hunt.’
In a statement late on Tuesday, James office said that it hasn’t decided whether the evidence outlined in Tuesday’s court papers merits legal action, but that the investigation should proceed unimpeded.
‘For more than two years, the Trump Organization has used delay tactics and litigation in an attempt to thwart a legitimate investigation into its financial dealings,’ James said.
‘Thus far in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit.’
Although James’ civil investigation is separate from the criminal investigation, her office has been involved in both, dispatching several lawyers to work side-by-side with prosecutors from the Manhattan D.A.’s office.
One judge has previously sided with James on other matters relating to the probe, including making another Trump son, Trump Organization executive Eric Trump, testify after his lawyers abruptly canceled a scheduled deposition.
The Trump family are pictured in 2015 at the season finale of The Celebrity Apprentice, held at Trump Tower
Allen Weisselberg looks on as Trump speaks in May 2016. He has been forced to testify in James’s case
Last year, the Manhattan district attorney brought tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization and Weisselberg, its longtime chief financial officer.
Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he and the company evaded taxes on lucrative fringe benefits paid to executives.
Trump, in his lawsuit to block James, filed shortly before Christmas, stated: ‘Her mission is guided solely by political animus and a desire to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against a private citizen who she views as a political opponent.’
Attorneys for the former president claim he and his family have been subjected to James’ ‘bitter crusade’ and accuse her of ‘bombarding’ them with subpoenas.
Trump accused James of being ‘nothing but a corrupt official doing the dirty work of your party.’
‘Tell Letitia that she is not dealing with the Cuomo brothers, a corrupt Governor in a corrupt state, including your office and others, and Fredo, who did the Governor’s dirty work for him,’ he said in a statement.
‘Despite many years of investigation that nobody else could have survived even if they did things just slightly wrong, yours is just a continuation of the political Witch Hunt that has gone on against me by the Radical Left Democrats for years.
‘This is not about delay, this is about our Constitution!
‘You are nothing but a corrupt official doing the dirty work of your party. You should not be in office. This could well be the reason you were just rejected by the people of NY in your inept run for governor. You didn’t quit for a higher purpose, you quit because your poll numbers were atrocious—you didn’t have a chance. New York got lucky!’
James had announced a run for governor of New York before suspending her campaign to once again mount a bid for the Attorney General’s office.
Trump attorney Alina Habba told CNBC in a statement: ‘Letitia James targets President Trump with a callous disregard for the ethical and moral obligations she swore to abide by when she became Attorney General.’
‘She has short changed the state by commencing this partisan investigation and has forever tarnished the sanctity of her office.
‘By filing this lawsuit, we intend to not only hold her accountable for her blatant constitutional violations, but to stop her bitter crusade to punish her political opponent in its tracks,’ Habba said.
Trump responded with fury to James’ statement announcing her investigation will go on unabated