An Appraiser Harshly Criticized Trump Organization's 'Inaccurate Statements' as Donald Trump Watched
Former President Donald Trump faced a key moment on Tuesday in his Manhattan fraud case. The trial has continued to uncover a web of alleged deception at the core of Trump's commercial empire, triggered by charges from New York Attorney General Letitia James that Trump and the Trump Organization exaggerated the values of their assets to gain favorable loans and insurance deals. A former Trump Organization appraiser came out to criticize the company's financial statements, as reported by Salon.
Former Trump Organization executive Jeff McConney testified about the technique used to give inflated values to different properties, including Trump's Wall Street tower, between 2013 and 2018. McConney said that he was advised to assign these inflated valuations by Doug Larson, an executive director at Cushman & Wakefield.
Larson, on the other hand, flatly disputed the occurrence of such a call and rejected McConney's assertion that he had collaborated with Trump or any associates of the Trump Organization, per Daily News. "It's both inappropriate and inaccurate," Larson said. "I should have been told, and an appraisal should have been ordered."
According to PBS, Trump organization accountant Donna Kidder said that she was instructed to make some favorable assumptions on internal financial spreadsheets. Larson stated that he didn’t suggest or condone the methods of assessing properties used by a former Trump Organization comptroller. "It doesn't make sense," Larson said of the ex-controller's 2013 valuation of a prominent Trump-owned retail location at $287.6 million.
A lawyer for the attorney general's office, Mark Ladov, pointed to occasions where the Trump Organization ignored Larson's valuations and increased asset values by large percentages. For example, the value of Trump's Wall Street tower was increased by 35% in 2016, and 1290 Avenue of the Americas received a 3.12% capitalization increase in 2013, attributed to Larson's contribution.
Attorney General Letitia James has been determined in her investigation into Trump's business dealings. She claims Trump has routinely overstated his net worth to financial institutions, with claimed differences ranging from $812 million to $2.2 billion depending on the year and individual applications filed. James is seeking a fine of over $250 million.
New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron's September 2023 judgment, in which he concluded that Trump had committed fraud in the state for years by misrepresenting his financial condition while extending his real estate assets, backed up James' charges. Engoron's verdict not only ruled against Trump and his adult sons doing business in New York, but it also imposed punitive measures, such as the revocation of certain of Trump's company licenses. This might lead to Trump losing control of crucial real estate holdings.
The ramifications extend beyond Trump's personal situation, as Engoron expressed concern about the loan market as a whole. “The next borrower, or the one after that, might default, and if its (financial statements) are false, the lender might unfairly be left holding the bag,” Engoron stated. “This will distort the lending marketplace and deprive other potential borrowers of the opportunity to obtain loans and create wealth.”
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