The Trump Organization blasted the New York City mayor for saying his probe of the company turned up evidence of a possible crime.
Following a news report late last year that President Donald Trump’s development firm reported different income figures to lenders and the government for the same real estate, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched an investigation. The mayor said Friday that some of his administration’s findings had been referred to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance for possible criminal prosecution.
A spokesperson for the Trump Organization lashed back Monday, saying the mayor is the “last person to be pointing fingers,” given the “rash of investigations” against the mayor’s presidential campaign, which ended in September. (Previous fundraising efforts by de Blasio were also scrutinized by Vance and federal prosecutors, resulting in harsh criticism but no charges.)
“The allegations are unfounded and clearly motivated by politics,” the Trump spokesperson said in a statement to The Real Deal.
The mayor’s office followed up with its own barb.
“President Trump is a con artist and his refusal to release his tax returns says more than enough about what he is trying to hide,” Freddi Goldstein, the mayor’s press secretary, said in a statement.
In October, ProPublica and WNYC reported that the Trump Organization had reported lower income figures at some of its buildings to the Department of Finance, which oversees property taxes, than it did to potential lenders.
The ProPublica-WNYC report cited experts that suggested the practice used at the Trump Organization’s 40 Wall Street could amount to fraud.
On Friday, de Blasio said during an interview with WNYC that “at least one piece of what was found was serious enough to be referred to the D.A.” A person familiar with the probe said it was passed on to Vance in November.
A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office said the office does not confirm investigations, and declined to comment further.
Landlords of all sizes challenge their property assessments in an effort to lower their real estate taxes, including by arguing that they do not produce as much income as the assessment assumes. Reporting robust income to lenders can entice them to provide larger loans to the property owner. In the case of a discrepancy between the two income numbers, prosecutors could evaluate whether there was an attempt to defraud either the government or the lenders.