Investigators at both the federal and state levels are working to determine whether documents Donald Trump used to woo investors and business partners, which he called “Statements of Financial Condition,” crossed the line from optimistic exaggeration into outright fraud, The Boston Globe reports. The official looking documents, which were recently obtained by The Washington Post, were as many as 20 pages long and painted a rosy picture of Trump’s overall financial situation, describing a rock solid multi-billion dollar net worth.
Analysis of the documents, however, shows that they largely exaggerated the value of assets and downplayed or omitted properties that carried large debts, not to mention fudging certain financial figures entirely.
Earlier this week, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform announced that they have requested 10 years of these financial documents from Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm. Similarly, the New York Department of Financial Services has subpoenaed records from Aon, one of the president’s major insurers, in an effort to determine if similar documents were used to push down insurance premiums.
The inquiries into Mazars USA and Aon were each driven by the February testimony of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, who brought up the financial statements and indicated that they were used specifically and deliberately to exaggerate Trump’s wealth to lenders and insurers.
The Washington Post has reviewed copies of the financial statements that were prepared for the years 2002, 2004, 2011, 2012, and 2013. They were obtained from court files, through business entities that received them from the Trump Organization, and from Cohen himself.
Each of the documents include a lengthy disclaimer, which essentially states that the statements do not follow traditional accounting rules and note that some figures, including the valuation of buildings, may be inflated and likewise inconsistent with ordinary accounting practices. The disclaimer also acknowledges that two major Trump properties — hotels in Chicago and Las Vegas — are not included in the analysis, which due to the heavy mortgages on each would significantly underrepresent the amount of total outstanding debt.
“Users of this financial statement should recognize that they might reach different conclusions about the financial condition of Donald J. Trump,” should they have access to more typical and complete financial data, reads the closing of the disclaimer.
”It’s humorous,” said Kyle Welch, an assistant accounting professor at George Washington University. ”It’s a humorous financial statement.” Welch added that he had personally never seen financial statements that strayed so far beyond traditional accounting practices.
For some time, journalists and Trump’s opponents have been working to unearth the Statements of Financial Condition, with renewed interest following Cohen’s recent testimony.
YOUR HELP NEEDED: I’m looking for copies of documents that Trump Org. gave out over the years. Some of you (I hope) might have one sitting in a file cabinet at the office.
The docs are labeled “Donald J. Trump Statement of Financial Condition.”
They look like this. 1/ pic.twitter.com/kNz4834aSN
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) October 12, 2018
Federal investigators, as well as those in New York State, are now at work to further uncover the legal implications of the documents, if any.