Trump must turn over financial documents to New York attorney general, judge rules

President’s companies and associates accused of inflating property assets for $21m tax deduction

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 15 December 2020 23:33
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The Trump Organization must turn over documents related to a property under investigation by New York’s attorney general, following allegations that the president and associates inflated assets to obtain millions of dollars in tax benefits.

Judge Arthur Engoron of the New York County State Supreme Court ruled the state’s Attorney General Letitia James be provided with documents between Ralph Mastromanaco, an engineer who worked with the company on Seven Springs Estate, and the Trump Organization.

“Once again, justice and the rule of law prevailed," the attorney general said in a statement. “We will immediately move to ensure that the Trump Organization complies with the court’s order and submits records related to our investigation. My office's ongoing investigation will continue, as we continue to follow the facts wherever they may lead.”

The 212-acre Westchester estate is among four properties facing a broad investigation into whether the president’s son Eric Trump and associates had inflated assets, among a suite of allegations facing the Trump family, including an ongoing criminal probe from Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, as the president prepares to leave office.

Judge Engoron ruled that the company can’t rely on attorney-client privilege to shield the documents from the state attorney general.

He said that documents must be handed over by 18 December.

In August, the attorney general filed a motion seeking real estate documents and testimony from several witnesses against the company. Her investigation is looking into whether the company accurately valued the Seven Springs property that allowed more than $21 million in tax deductions following a donation to a conservation easement for the 2015 tax year.

The investigation stems from testimony from the president’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress and campaign finance violations.

He told a congressional committee in 2019 that the president “inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”

Asked directly while under oath whether the president had ever inflated his assets to an insurance company, he answered affirmatively. He also was asked for the names of other people involved in the scheme, and what other documents would reveal the president’s alleged fraud.

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