Exclusive: New York Tax Agency Cited To Appear In Trump Criminal Investigation | Top news

By Peter Eisler and Jason Szep

(Reuters) – The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has subpoenaed a New York City property tax agency in connection with a criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s company, the agency confirmed on Friday, suggesting that prosecutors examine the former president’s efforts to reduce his commercial real estate taxes for possible evidence of fraud.

The summons issued to the New York City Tax Commission is the latest indication that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. is reviewing the values ​​Trump assigned to certain commercial properties in tax returns and tax documents. ready.

In addition to information previously cited by creditors, the tax agency documents would help investigators determine whether Trump’s company inflated the value of its properties to secure favorable terms on loans while deflating those values ​​for reduce tax bills for these same properties.

New York City Tax Commission chairwoman Frances Henn confirmed the subpoena in response to a Reuters request.

The subpoena would likely require the agency to provide detailed statements of the income and expenses that the Trump organization allegedly filed as part of an effort to reduce tax assessments on some of its commercial properties, according to people familiar with the subpoena. commission operations. Trump’s holdings include Trump Tower and Trump Plaza.

Those documents would typically include appraisals submitted by the company to challenge the market values ​​assigned to the Trump property by the city’s tax assessors, they added.

Subpoenas have also been issued to at least two creditors who helped fund Trump’s real estate holdings, Deutsche Bank AG and Ladder Capital Finance LLC, Reuters previously reported.

Vance’s office declined to comment on the tax commission’s subpoena. Deutsche Bank also declined to comment. Ladder Capital did not respond to a request for comment. A Trump representative and a lawyer for the Trump Organization also did not respond to requests for comment.

Vance did not comment specifically on the subject matter of his investigation, but noted in court filings that his office was exploring “potentially extended and prolonged criminal conduct” at the Trump Organization, including possible falsification of records as well. as insurance and tax fraud.

Vance’s investigation is the only known criminal investigation into Trump’s real estate affairs. New York State Attorney General Letitia James is conducting a separate civil investigation into whether Trump’s company falsely declared property values ​​to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.

The Tax Commission is New York City’s forum for adjudicating appeals from tax assessments prepared by the city’s Department of Finance, which manages property tax bills and collections. A spokeswoman for the New York mayor’s office said the department had not been subpoenaed.

Tax assessments are based on the market value of a property, as determined by the ministry, so the challenges require detailed documentation to show that the assigned value is not accurate, including income data and occupation.

If Trump’s company claimed significantly less value for a property in its tax returns than in the documents it submitted to creditors, the deviation could help substantiate a charge of fraud, according to Daniel J. Horwitz, an attorney. white-collar defense lawyer who had previously pursued complex tax and fraud cases for more than eight years at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

If there is a “significant difference” between the property values ​​declared in tax returns and the values ​​declared in loan documents, he added, “it is quite convincing.”

(Edited by Cynthia Osterman)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

Esther L. Steinbach

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