New York City Tax Commission subpoenaed in Donald Trump probe, hinting at possible fraud focus

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has subpoenaed a New York City property tax agency as part of a criminal investigation into Donald Trump‘s company, the agency confirmed on Friday, suggesting prosecutors are examining the former president’s efforts to reduce his commercial real-estate taxes for possible evidence of fraud.

The subpoena issued to the New York City Tax Commission is the latest indication that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. is looking at the values Trump assigned to some commercial properties in tax filings and loan documents.

Along with information already subpoenaed from creditors, the tax agency documents would help investigators determine whether Trump’s business inflated the value of his properties to secure favorable terms on loans while deflating those values to lower tax bills for those same properties.

As Donald Trump golfs, a probe into his real estate holdings continues to grow

The inquiry is being led by Cyrus Vance Jr, the Manhattan District Attorney

The inquiry is being led by Cyrus Vance Jr, the Manhattan District Attorney

New York City Tax Commission President Frances Henn confirmed the subpoena in response to an inquiry from Reuters.

The subpoena likely would compel the agency to provide detailed income and expense statements the Trump Organization would have filed as part of an effort to lower tax assessments on some of its commercial properties, according to people familiar with the commission’s operations. Trump’s holdings include Trump Tower and Trump Plaza.

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

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

Vance’s office declined to comment on the tax commission subpoena. Deutsche Bank also declined to comment. Ladder Capital did not respond to a request for comment. 

A representative for Trump and a lawyer for the Trump Organization also did not respond to requests for comment.

Vance has not commented specifically on the focus of his investigation but noted in court filings that his office is exploring ‘possibly extensive and protracted 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 probe of Trump’s real-estate business. 

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is leading a separate civil probe into whether Trump’s company falsely reported property values to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.

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

The tax assessments are based on a property’s market value, as determined by the department, so challenges require detailed documentation to show that the assigned value is not accurate, including revenue and occupancy data.

If Trump’s business claimed a substantially lower value for a property in its tax filings than it did in documents it submitted to creditors, the discrepancy could help back up a fraud charge, according to Daniel J. Horwitz, a white-collar defense lawyer who previously prosecuted tax and complex fraud cases during more than eight years in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Trump's holdings include Trump Tower (pictured) and Trump Plaza

Trump’s holdings include Trump Tower (pictured) and Trump Plaza 

If there’s a ‘material difference’ between the property values claimed in tax filings and the values claimed in loan documents, he added, ‘that’s fairly compelling.’     

Ladder Capital reportedly took out more than $280 million worth of loans against Trump properties. 

Cy Vance Jr., the Manhattan DA, has yet to reveal what his investigation into Trump is specifically looking to uncover.

Trump has called the investigation ‘a witch hunt’ and ‘a fishing expedition’ in the past.  

The probe into Trump’s real estate dealings appears to be intensifying following his departure from office a month ago.

The New York Times reports Mark F. Pomerantz, a former prosecutor with a history of investigating white-collar criminals, has joined the investigation.

The Trump Organization has turned over some records to Manhattan DA’s Office, but it’s not clear if they’ve complied fully with a subpoena yet.

This investigation has been going on for two and a half years, but likely pivots based on whether or not the US Supreme Court allows investigators to have access to Trump’s taxes, a decision that has reached the highest court twice.

Pictured: Trump International Hotel and Tower, a significant part of Trump's holdings

Pictured: Trump International Hotel and Tower, a significant part of Trump’s holdings

A decision may come in the manner by the end of the month. A stay requested by Trump’s team on the decision has been pending since October.

One key witness in the probe is proving to be former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who was set to be interviewed for a fourth time in the case on Friday.

‘Cohen has been summoned again to meet with the DA and his team,’ a source told DailyMail.com on Thursday. ‘This will be the fourth time he has been interviewed since his release into home confinement.

‘It seems Vance is putting the final pieces of the puzzle together. It has led everyone to believe the indictments against Trump, members of his family and his eponymous company are imminent and are being prepared as we speak.

‘Now Trump is out of office Vance is buttoning up all the information he has gathered to present to a Grand Jury.

Seven Springs in Bedford is also under the microscope of Vance and NY AG Letitia James

Seven Springs in Bedford is also under the microscope of Vance and NY AG Letitia James

‘Things have definitely heated up since Trump left the White House and the focus continues to be economic improprieties by Trump and the Trump organization.

‘Cohen has now given information to Robert Mueller, Congress, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the House Committee of Oversight and Reform, the DA and Attorney General, these bodies would not keep coming back to him time and time again if they didn’t think his information was both important and genuine.’

The Manhattan probe is the most serious criminal threat to Trump, who is no longer protected by presidential immunity.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Georgia are looking into Trump’s attempt to assert his influence and force local officials to overturn the results of the election in the state.

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