Trump Organization Fined $1.6M in Tax Fraud Probe

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Former President Donald Trump’s eponymous real estate company was fined $1.6 million on Friday, a month after being convicted of criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records.

The fines are somewhat symbolic for the Trump Organization that touts billions in assets, but may play a role in whether Trump is able to retake the White House in the 2024 presidential election, according to Associated Press.

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The fine follows the sentencing of former Trump Organization CEO Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to evading taxes on $1.7 million in compensation and was sentenced to five months in prison on Tuesday.

“Allen Weisselberg is a victim. He was threatened, intimidated and terrorized. He was given a choice of pleading guilty and serving 90 days in prison or serving the rest of his life in jail — all of this over a corporate car and standard employee benefits,” a statement from the Trump Organization said. “President Trump and The Trump Organization are also both victims. … We did nothing wrong and we will appeal this verdict.” 

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office filed the charges against the Trump Organization in June 2021. In December, a New York County Supreme Court jury determined that the company was guilty of handing out “lavish perks” to executives — such as luxury vehicle leases and private school tuition — without paying taxes on them as far back as 2005, Commercial Observer previously reported.

The DA’s office spent five years investigating the Trump Organization over tax evasion, which the company labeled as a “witch hunt” in a statement and pointed to the perception that crime in New York is out of control.

The same language has been used by Trump to describe the investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James to uncover whether the Trump Organization had falsely inflated the appraised value of its assets such as 40 Wall Street in Manhattan, Seven Springs Estate in Westchester, N.Y., and Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles.

At Seven Springs, the Trump family increased the value of the property from $80 million to $200 million from 2004 to 2007, then up to $291 million in 2012. James has said two independent appraisers valued the property at $56 million.

In September 2021, James’ office sued Trump, his company and three of his children for allegedly manipulating the property values. If the suit is successful, it would require the Trump Organization to repay $250 million in allegedly fraudulently acquired funds and bar Trump and his children from making commercial real estate acquisitions in New York for five years and from serving as officers or directors in any corporation in New York.

The AG’s investigation has not only been a thorn in the side of the Trump Organization, but has also had implications for Cushman & Wakefield which has been held in contempt for not complying with James’ office.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.