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Properties Trump could lose control of in New York fraud case

A New York judge this week put the spotlight on former President Donald J. Trump’s business empire, determining in a ruling that he inflated the value of his properties by vast sums to obtain favorable terms on loans and insurance.

If the ruling stands, Mr. Trump could lose control of some of his best-known New York real estate — an outcome that state Attorney General Letitia James sought when she filed suit justice last year accusing him of fraud and calling for justice. cancellation of its commercial certificates for any State entity having benefited from fraudulent practices.

The ruling by New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur F. Engoron comes ahead of a trial, intended largely to decide possible sanctions, that could begin as early as Monday. Mr. Trump’s lawyers are expected to appeal.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers and a prominent real estate expert have argued that Ms. James’s lawsuit does not properly consider the value of the Trump brand or take into account the subjective nature of real estate appraisals, borrowers and lenders systematically offering different estimates.

Nearly a dozen properties owned or partially controlled by Mr. Trump and his organization could be subject to Judge Engoron’s ruling. Here are the main ones that are vulnerable, as mentioned in the lawsuit.

Ms. James’s lawsuit claims that the Trump Organization, which is a collection of approximately 500 separate entities that operate for the benefit and control of Mr. Trump, used deceptive practices to obtain the highest possible value for the Trump Tower.

For example, in 2015, the Trump Organization based its valuation of the tower on the sale of a single neighboring building, described in the press as setting a world record, allowing Mr. Trump and his associates to claim that the value of property had increased. $170 million compared to the previous year.

The three-story Trump Tower penthouse was Mr. Trump’s residence for more than two decades. It was the place where he flaunted his wealth in front of heads of state and film crews.

But the lawsuit says his value was far less than he claimed: The reported value in the Trump Organization’s financial statements increased by 400 percent, from $80 million in 2011 to $327 million in 2015. Ms. James believes Mr. Trump and his associates justified the jump by significantly overestimating the unit’s square footage, inflating it from 10,996 to 30,000 square feet.

In 2019, Mr. Trump and his companies that lease the buildings where Niketown, a tenant, was previously located, valued the interest in the buildings at $445 million. The lawsuit said that amount was inflated by a mismatch in income and expense periods.

The Trump Organization is accused of using higher, forward-looking revenue figures combined with lower, retrospective spending figures, resulting in inflation of at least $37 million, according to the lawsuit.

This property includes 12 rent-stabilized apartments, which were assessed by the Trump Organization as if they were rented at market rate. The company’s proposed valuation for the rent-stabilized units was nearly $50 million, while the appraised value was $750,000, according to the lawsuit.

Mr. Trump owns a minority stake in this 43-story skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, adjacent to Radio City Music Hall. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Trump owns a 30 percent share of the entity that owns the building and is locked into partnership rules, which limit Mr. Trump’s ability to sell his share.

Yet in valuing their stake in the building, Mr. Trump and his companies are accused of simply calculating 30 percent of the skyscraper’s value, minus its debt, and treating it as if it were an asset that could be sold any day. the following. In fact, the partnership significantly restricts Mr. Trump’s ability to exit the deal before 2044.

He is also accused of inflating the building’s value by using an inaccurate “cap rate,” a real estate valuation measure used to compare different investments.

In 2015, the Trump Organization valued this rented property in Lower Manhattan at $735 million. The appraisal ordered by the lender totaled $540 million, according to the lawsuit. Mr. Trump’s assessment included a $1.4 million lease with Dean & Deluca, although it had not yet been signed.

Its financial statements also underestimated building-related expenses. For example, the organization reported management fees and expenses of $100,000 per year for 2012, 2013 and 2014, when fees were closer to $1 million each year.

The lawsuit claims that the Trump Organization inflated the price of membership at this golf course to increase the value of the property. For example, the listed registration fee for the club in 2011 and 2012 was $10,000. Yet in 2011, the Trump Organization valued 93 percent of 161 unsold memberships at $15,000 or more. In 2012, the company valued 78 percent of 254 unsold memberships at between $15,000 and $30,000 each.

The lawsuit claims the Trump Organization increased the value of the 7,300-yard par-72 golf course by including revenue it hoped to earn from new members. The 2011 assessment was based on the assumption that 67 new members would each pay about $200,000 in entry fees, while many paid nothing.

In 1995, a subsidiary owned by the Trump Organization purchased a 212-acre property spanning three towns in Westchester County. More than a decade later, Eric Trump, the former president’s son, planned to build 24 luxury lots there. The expert hired by the Trump Organization in 2014 estimated the value of the lots at around $30 million. But that same year, the company reported a value of $23 million for each lot in one of the towns alone, Bedford, according to the lawsuit.

Additionally, the financial statements reported these values ​​as if the homes had already been built, although the Trump Organization faced a legal challenge from the Nature Conservancy, which sought to restrict what the organization could build.

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