'Loans worth $280M tied to Trump Tower & other properties being investigated as part of criminal probe of Donald Trump'
PROSECUTORS in New York are investigating “loans worth $280million tied to Trump Tower and other properties connected with the former president as part of a criminal probe,” reports say.
The loans taken out by Donald Trump are said to be connected to his Fifth Avenue building, Trump Tower; 40 Wall St, an art deco skyscraper in the Financial District; Trump International Hotel and Tower, a condominium in Columbus Circle; and Trump Plaza, an apartment building on Manhattan’s East Side.
All the loans being examined were made to Trump by subsidiaries of Ladder Capital, a New York City-based real-estate investment trust, a Wall St Journal report says.
Ladder Capital has lent Trump more than $280million fo the four Manhattan buildings since 2012, according to property records.
Lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization declined to comment, the WSJ report said.
The probe, which is being led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, a Democrat, has been branded by Trump as a “witch hunt”.
Trump’s lawyers have called the investigation a “fishing expedition” as part of a bid by Vance to get the former president’s tax returns.
Court filings by Vance’s office say it is pursuing a complex investigation into alleged insurance and bank fraud by the Trump Organization and its officers.
The examination of Trump’s Manhattan properties comes as Vance’s office is fighting a legal battle for Trump’s tax returns and other financial details.
Last July the Supreme Court ruled Trump’s accounting firm was required to hand over the records.
Trump has appealed the ruling for a second time, on different grounds, and the high court is yet to say if it will hear the case, putting Vance’s subpoena in limbo.
It’s believed prosecutors are looking for discrepancies between loan documents and financial information submitted elsewhere by Trump, according to the report.
Writing false information on a loan application with the intention of gaining financial benefits can be a crime under New York law, legal experts said.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment, the report said.
Prosecutors are also looking at Seven Springs, the 213-acre estate in Westchester, NY, which is owned by the Trump Organization.
Prosecutors have subpoenaed information relating to the property’s valuation, which is said to have varied widely.
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James has said it is conducting a separate civil-fraud investigation into properties including 40 Wall St. and the Seven Springs estate.
The Trump Organization has said James, a Democrat, is motivated by politics.
Ladder is said to make loans and then sells the debt to other investors in the form of commercial mortgage-backed securities.
Jack Weisselberg, the son of Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, works at Ladder.
Weisselberg has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Trump took out a $100million loan with Ladder in 2012 for Trump Tower, according to property records.
Two years later Trump took out a $15m loan from Ladder for Trump Plaza.
Ladder then lent Trump $160m in 2015 for 40 Wall St. The property has a ground lease, which means while Trump owns the building he pays rent to the German family that owns the land.
Trump then took out a $7m mortgage from Ladder in 2016 for Trump International Hotel and Tower.
The refinancing led to significantly lower interest rates for at least 40 Wall St and Trump International.
According to Trump’s public financial disclosure, the earlier 40 Wall St loan had a 5.71 per cent interest rate compared to 3.665 per cent after refinancing.
The Trump Tower loan comes due in 2022 and others are due in the next several years, his disclosures have said.
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