Trump Accused of Fraud With Two Sets of Books
Yesterday, I reported Trump Wins Round One In Battle Over His Tax Returns.
Q: What Happened?
A: The Supreme Court suspended a House subpoena seeking Trump’s financial records.
However, some documents such as tax appeals are a matter of public record.
ProPublica did an Analysis of Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents obtained by freedom of information requests.
Those documents made Trump's businesses appear more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials. One expert calls the differing numbers “versions of fraud.”
Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.
For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.
Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call “leasing momentum.” Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013.
ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records. We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.
The two Trump buildings with the most notable discrepancies shared a financial trait: Both were refinanced in 2015 and 2016 while Trump was campaigning for president. The loan for 40 Wall Street — $160 million — was then the Trump Organization’s biggest debt.
Financial information for the Trump International Hotel and Tower raises similar questions. Trump owns only a small portion of the building, which is located on Columbus Circle: two commercial spaces, which he rents out to a restaurant and a parking garage. Trump’s company told New York City tax officials it made about $822,000 renting space to commercial tenants there in 2017, records show. The company told loan officials it took in $1.67 million that year — more than twice as much. In eight years of data ProPublica examined for the Columbus Circle property, Trump’s company reported gross income to tax authorities that was typically only about 81% of what it reported to the lender.
Trump appeared to omit from tax documents income his company received from leasing space on the roof for television antennas, a ProPublica review found. The line on tax appeal forms for income from such communications equipment is blank on nine years of tax filings, even as loan documents listed the antennas as major sources of income.
The article has many more details and comments. Here's a short YouTube video analysis.
Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records offered these comments.
- “It really feels like there’s two sets of books — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender.”
- “What is bizarre is that you have these tax filings that are totally different.” A gap of at least 10 percentage points between the two occupancy reports persisted for the next two years, before the figures in the tax and loan reports synced in January 2016.
A politically-connected friend had these comments.
- One of the reasons Trump appointed Brett Kavanagh to the Supreme Court was Kavanagh's views about stopping investigations of Presidents. Kavanagh’s idea is that the President can’t do his job if he is hounded by every local prosecutor in the country.
- It would not be too surprising if this kind of tax fraud investigation were stopped by the Supreme Court. But really, this is an investigation of his corporation, not so much him personally.
- Trump was never a big time player, certainly not after he lost a good part of his father’s money in the Atlantic City fiasco. He had a bad reputation and his post-Jersey fortune was built on his franchising business. There are legitimate reasons for his not wanting to bare the margins of his entire organization to public scrutiny, but he could have had some partial disclosure of returns that would have shielded that.
- Finally, I should add that I very much doubt that Trump personally signed any of these returns.
Senior Ex-Deutsche Bank Exec Linked to Millions in Donald Trump Loans Commits Suicide
Adding to the bizarre nature of all these twists and turns, ZeroHedge reported today Senior Ex-Deutsche Bank Exec Linked to Millions in Donald Trump Loans Commits Suicide.
The University of Boston graduate was most recently Chief Operating Officer of Starwood Capital Group according to his bio: "Bowers is responsible for driving Starwood Capital’s priority strategic initiatives and enhancing the operational effectiveness of the Firm’s public and private operating companies and entities."
More notably, prior to joining Starwood Capital in 2015, Bowers was Co-Head of Asset and Wealth Management-Americas at Deutsche Bank, where has started in 2005 and was responsible for managing the U.S. and Latin American wealth management businesses, and had joint responsibility for the integration of Deutsche Bank’s wealth and institutional asset management businesses in the Americas. Bowers was also a board member of Deutsche Bank Securities: if anybody knew where the bodies are buried, he would be one of them.
Just as notable is that both Bowers and Broeksmit appear to have held key functions for Deutsche Bank's US wealth-management division, with Broeksmit operating through the murkier Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, or DBTCA.
But what is most remarkable is that according to a March 2019, Bowers was boss to Trump’s personal banker Rosemary Vrablic, who according to the NYT report helped steer more than $300 million in loans to Donald J. Trump in the years before he was elected president.
Hanging suddenly appears to be the suicide method of choice.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock