Trump Exaggerated Financial Assets in Statements to Insurers and Lenders: Report
As a businessman, Donald Trump used lengthy documents titled “Statements of Financial Condition” to impress potential lenders, partners, and journalists. The files were meant to give a picture of Trump’s net worth and financial assets, but were frequently filled with gross exaggerations, the Washington Post reports.
A statement from 2011 claimed Trump had 55 lots to sell on his California golf course. In reality, only 31 of these $3 million homes were zoned and ready for sale, meaning Trump claimed to have $72 million in future revenue that would never exist, wrote the Post.
In various statements between 2002 and 2013—some of which Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has presented to Congress—Trump exaggerated the acreage of his Virginia vineyard, the height of Trump Tower, and the value of an estate he planned to build in New York’s Westchester County, according to the report. He also allegedly omitted two of his hotels from the reports, neglecting to disclose the debt that each carried.
These statements were prepared by Trump’s accountants, but as unofficial documents, the accountants were not required to check the validity of the valuations Trump gave them. Disclosures on each document warn that the accountants “have not audited or reviewed the accompanying financial statement,” writes the Post.
“Users of this financial statement should recognize that they might reach different conclusions about the financial condition of Donald J. Trump” if they had additional information, the disclosure concludes.
While the alleged exaggerations could amount to fraud—depending on whether Trump intended to deceive insurers or lenders and received a financial benefit as a result—these disclosures might be enough to protect the president from legal action, financial experts told the Post.
Still, the documents are under investigation. The House Oversight and Reform Committee requested 10 years of these statements from Trump’s accounting firm earlier this week, and the Post reports that the New York State Department of Financial Services subpoenaed records from Trump’s insurer earlier this month.
The White House has not publicly commented on the Post report.
The New York Times, in an investigation published in October, reported that the Trump family used “dubious tax schemes…including instances of outright fraud” to earn millions. These alleged crimes (which Trump denies) might be decades old, but caught the attention of the New York State Tax Department.
The president has repeatedly refused to reveal his tax returns.