Are Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties being accused of fraud overvalued?

“The Art of Dealing” made Donald Trump a household name in real estate. But the New York Attorney General’s Office accuses the former US president of “the art of theft,” alleging that he grossly misrepresented the value of several of his properties.

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Donald Trump has built his real estate empire since the 1970s.

Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump and three of his adult children on Wednesday, alleging they participated in financial fraud schemes to obtain favorable loans, tax breaks and other economic advantages.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the civil lawsuit filed by the Democrat “another witch hunt”.

The lawsuit alleges misconduct at nearly two dozen Trump-owned properties in the US and abroad, many of them well-known.

They include Trump Tower in New York City, where the family business is based, and the sprawling Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, which the former president now calls home.

Here is a more detailed look at some of the claims made by the prosecution:

golf courses

View of Trump International.

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This course is built on 4,000-year-old sand dunes in Balmedie, Scotland.

Trump’s golf course on the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire, in north-east Scotland, has long been the subject of controversy.

Two years ago, officials stripped the site of its special status as a protected environment of national importanceafter a local government watchdog said the 18-hole course had “partially destroyed” the 4,000-year-old sand dunes it was built on.

Trump International described the move as “highly politicized.” According to prosecutor James’ lawsuit, the value of the property is “highly inflated.”

He contends that that 2014 valuation of $327 million was based largely on the assumption that 2,500 homes could be developed on the 566-hectare site.

It has emerged that the prosecution handles information that the Trump Organization had received zoning (land use change) approval six years earlier to develop less than 1,500 homes, most of which were only intended as short-term vacation rentals. term.

The allegedly misleading figure “More than tripled the value of the land built at Trump International Golf Links, the lawsuit states.

Additionally, the court document asserts that an earlier valuation of undeveloped land in 2011 was based solely on an email from a Trump Organization executive to Forbes magazine, rather than a professional appraisal.

The triplex at Trump Tower

Trump Tower

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The skyscraper towers over Fifth Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City.

One of Manhattan’s most recognizable skyscrapers, Trump Tower in New York City was Trump’s primary residence until 2020.

He still maintains a penthouse that spans the top three floors of the 58-storey building, and the former president often boasts about the size of his “golden palace.”

The problem? Supposedly it’s not as big as he says it is.

Prosecutors say that while Trump has repeatedly said the triplex is more than 3,000 square feet, property records, several of which contain his signature, establish that it is, in fact, less than 1,000 square feet.

Tripling the size of the apartment for valuation purposes was a fraud willful and deliberate, not an honest mistake,” the plaintiffs write.

By deliberately misrepresenting its size and multiplying it by what the lawsuit claimed was “an unreasonable price per square foot,” the apartment was valued at $327 million in 2015.

“That price was absurd, given the fact that at the time only one apartment in New York City had sold for $100 million…and that sale was in a newly constructed tower,” the plaintiffs continue.

“In the 30-year-old Trump Tower, the record sale at the time was just $16.5 million.”

The club Mar-a-Lago

Mar-a-Lago Club

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The oceanfront complex is a historic building in Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump bought the 17-acre Mar-a-Lago property on the Florida coast in 1985.

Formally designated by then as a National Historic Landmark, initially It functioned as a private residence before Trump la become a members-only social club in 1994.

The lawsuit, which names the property more than 50 times, states that Trump made the change because he was concerned the property was a “white elephant” too expensive to use, preserve or sell for residential use.

However, its valuations treated the land as “an unrestricted home to ‘sell to an individual,’ rather than a heavily encumbered historic building, restricted to club use that it was,” the suit states.

Supposedly, this was despite Trump signing deeds giving up residential development rights and restricting changes to the property.

According to the prosecution, this false premise supported the year-over-year valuations from 2011 to 2021, with a maximum property value of $739 million.

“In reality, the club generated annual revenues of less than $25 million and should have been valued at close to $75 million,” the plaintiffs state.

Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago

Trump Tower Chicago

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The building sits on the Chicago River.

At nearly 100 stories tall, the Trump International Hotel at Trump Tower in downtown Chicago is the second tallest building in the city and stands out even among the towering skyscrapers that line the Chicago River.

But, according to the suit filed in New York, Trump stated that the luxury building, built at a cost of $850 million and packed with apartments, hotel rooms and restaurants, “It does not have value”.

The lawsuit contends that claim would have helped him pay less in taxes, since the property qualified as a substantial loss under the federal tax code.

At the same time, however, the former president was allegedly taking out loans from Deutsche Bank.

The German financial institution lent Trump billions for decades despite his defaults and lawsuits against the bank, though it promised to stop lending to the former president shortly after last year’s riots at the US Capitol.

Government lawyers say Trump has excluded this Chicago property from his financial statements since 2009, but has taken out more than $100 million in loans related to it since 2011.

Donald Trump

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Donald Trump called the lawsuit “another witch hunt.”

In the initial $107 million loan in 2012, Trump’s alleged $4 billion net worth was allegedly used as personal collateral, securing a favorably low interest rate.

The suit goes on to assert that Trump and the Trump Organization obtained favorable terms from Deutsche Bank on at least two other properties, including the now-sold Trump Hotel in Washington DC.

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