New York Attorney General Letitia James has broadened her civil investigation into the accuracy of the Trump Organization’s financial statements to include the role of its long-time appraiser Cushman & Wakefield, according to recent court filings.
James asked a judge to force the company to comply with subpoenas issued last year and early this year. On Tuesday, the judge ordered Cushman to appear in court later this month.
“In an effort to determine whether certain valuations prepared by Cushman were fraudulent or misleading, and whether Cushman itself has engaged in fraudulent or misleading practices in its issuance of appraisals, (The Office of the Attorney General) has issued a series of subpoenas to Cushman including most recently subpoenas issued in September 2021 and February 2022,” James’ office wrote.
Cushman has objected to the subpoenas, citing client confidentiality and harassment, among other things, according to court filings.
“Any suggestion that Cushman & Wakefield has not responded in good faith to the Attorney General’s investigation is fundamentally untrue,” a company spokesman said. “The Attorney General’s filings do not accurately depict Cushman & Wakefield’s responses to prior subpoenas and inquiries. We stand behind our appraisers and our work.”
James’ office has previously alleged there were multiple misstatements in the company’s financial statements. The findings are part of its ongoing civil investigation into the Trump Organization and whether it defrauded borrowers, lenders, and tax authorities who relied upon those statements
The latest filing comes as James’ office has increased pressure to force the compliance with subpoenas as it heads toward an end of April deadline when a tolling agreement with the Trump Organization expires. It has sought depositions with Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump and moved to hold the former President in civil contempt for failing to comply with a document subpoena.
Trump has called the investigation a politically motivated witch hunt.
Cushman is the go-to appraiser for the Trump Organization, assisting it in valuing several properties, including the family compound known as Seven Springs, the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles and 40 Wall Street, according to court filings. The civil subpoenas are seeking Cushman’s work documents relating to those properties and others, information on payments to the Trump Organization and its decision to cease doing work for Trump in January 2021. In addition authorities are seeking information about a Cushman appraiser who went to work for the Trump Organization.
Lawyers for the attorney general’s office said Cushman failed to comply with a subpoena sent in February and it recently stopped producing documents in connection with the September subpoena. In addition, the attorney general’s office said Cushman instructed four of its employees not to answer questions during depositions, citing privileges.
Cushman regularly provided the Trump Organization with real estate data that the attorney general’s office said was ultimately used in the preparation of the financial statements. There were “hundreds” of instances when that data, according to the attorney general’s office, was cited “as support for the inflated valuations” included in Trump’s financial statements.
The attorney general’s office notes that appraisals Cushman prepared for 40 Wall Street and were incorporated into two different commercial mortgage-backed securities differed in key ways from earlier appraisals. The rest of the information about those loans was redacted in the court filing.
Investigators said they’re looking to explore what was requested by Trump, “whether the appraisers were pushed by the client in any respect, and whether Cushman’s substantial business with the Trump Organization in any way impacted the appraisals prepared or other valuation-related information provided, or compromised Cushman’s objectivity.”