Judge orders Cushman & Wakefield to comply with Trump subpoenas

Anti-Trump protesters gather outside the New York County Supreme Court in New York City, USA, April 25, 2022.

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A New York judge on Monday ordered commercial real estate services giant Cushman & Wakefield to comply with subpoenas over its appraisals of several Trump Organization properties that are being investigated by the New York Attorney General’s Office, a spokesman for the New York Attorney General’s Office said. that office.

The order from Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron came hours after the same judge held former President Donald Trump in contempt for failing to comply with another subpoena issued by Attorney General Letitia James seeking business documents as part of your research.

The judge, a Democrat who was elected to the post in 2015, said Trump would have to pay $10,000 a day in fines for each day he failed to turn over documents. Trump’s attorney said he would appeal that ruling.

“For the second time today, a judge has made it clear that no one is above the law,” James said in a statement released Monday afternoon, following a hearing on the Cushman & Wakefield subpoenas.

“Cushman & Wakefield’s work for Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization is clearly relevant to our investigation, and we are pleased that the court has upheld it,” James said. “Our investigation will continue undeterred.”

James’ investigation focuses on allegations that the Trump Organization misrepresented the actual values ​​of multiple real estate assets when applying for loans and insurance coverage, and on tax-related returns, in an effort to obtain more favorable financial terms.

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James’ office said Monday that Engoron had given Cushman & Wakefield, which had refused to comply with the document demand, until May 27 to serve the documents in accordance with its subpoenas.

“Cushman & Wakefield’s work for the Trump Organization is material to our ongoing investigation into Donald J. Trump and the financial practices of the Trump Organization,” James said earlier this month.

Cushman & Wakefield in an emailed statement said: “While we acknowledge today’s ruling, any suggestion that Cushman & Wakefield has not responded in good faith to the Attorney General’s investigation remains fundamentally false.”

“We made clear during the hearing that our firm has devoted significant time, resources and expense in our efforts to cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation, including the sharing of tens of thousands of items of information,” the company said. “Once again, Cushman & Wakefield affirms that we stand behind our appraisals and appraisers.”

A Cushman spokeswoman also told CNBC that, contrary to some reports published Monday, the company itself is not the focus of the James investigation.

The attorney general filed a motion on April 8 to force Cushman & Wakefield to comply with subpoenas related to its work for the Trump Organization.

Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally to boost Ohio’s Republican candidates ahead of the May 3 primary election, at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Ohio, USA, on 23 April 2022.

Gaelen Morse | Reuters

His office said the company “has refused to comply with subpoenas for information related to appraisals for three specific Trump properties: Seven Springs Estate, Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles and 40 Wall Street, and information about the business. Cushman’s largest relationship with the Trump Organization,” according to a press release.

James’ office also said that with respect to the Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County, New York, and the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles, “evidence indicates that the Trump Organization submitted fraudulent or misleading valuations of conservation easements to the Internal Revenue Service.”

“Those appraisals were used to obtain tax deductions and involved appraisals issued by Cushman,” the statement said.

The press release also noted that “Cushman issued multiple appraisals of 40 Wall Street in midtown Manhattan,” including three appraisals issued to “Capital One Bank between 2010 and 2012, valuing the Trump Organization’s interest in the property at between $200 million and $220 million.”

Allen Weisselberg (C), former CFO of US President Donald Trump’s company, arrives to attend the hearing of the criminal case in lower Manhattan criminal court in New York on July 1, 2021.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | fake images

“In 2015, the same Cushman team prepared another property appraisal for Ladder Capital Finance LLC, this time valuing the building at $550 million,” James’ office said at the time. That appraisal was used by the Trump Organization to secure a loan.”

Jack Weisselberg, son of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, works at Ladder Capital. Allen Weisselberg and the Trump Organization were indicted last year on criminal charges charging them with a scheme that since 2005 sought to evade taxes on the compensation of the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer and other executives.

Allen Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty in that criminal case, which is being prosecuted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

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