It is from these annual financial statements of Donald Trump, sort of photographs of his fortune listing his properties – such as the Trump Tower in Manhattan – that the New York State Attorney General’s Office accuses the father and the two brothers for inflating the value of the group’s assets in the 2010s.
Fraudulent maneuvers amounting to billions of dollars, intended to obtain more favorable loans from banks and better insurance conditions, according to the accusation.
Of the two brothers, executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization, who took charge when the father entered the White House in 2017, Eric appeared the most in difficulty in court.
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From the outset, he assured that he had “not worked” on the annual financial statements. But the representative of the general prosecutor’s office, Andrew Amer, showed him a long series of emails, displayed on the court screen, seeming to attest to the contrary.
On August 23, 2013, a group executive spoke to him about “notes” for “Mr. Trump’s annual financial statement”, on April 22, 2015, it was Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization , who gives him the idea of repaying a loan “after June 30” to keep as much liquidity as possible on the annual financial statement.
Under the fire of questions, during a tight interrogation lasting several hours, Eric Trump sometimes lost his patience, and his voice, until now cordial, rose: “we are a huge group in real estate, of course that there are financial declarations,” he says.
But he tried to maintain his position: “I don’t focus on numbers. I build projects.”
The questions then focused on “Seven Springs”, an opulent residence surrounded by nature – 60 rooms, three swimming pools -, one of the most overvalued according to the accusation (more than 260 million dollars, compared to ten times less according to estimates) and whose management company Eric Trump headed.
“I trusted the accountants,” Donald Trump Jr also repeated a little earlier.
He was notably confronted with an email from a journalist from the financial magazine Forbes dated March 3, 2017, containing a long series of questions about Donald Trump’s fortune and calling into question the true surface area of his triplex in Trump Tower.
“It’s crazy what’s in there,” Donald Trump Jr. said in another email when he learned of Forbes’ questions.
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In court, he does not remember the episode well. Has he undertaken any audits? “I don’t know if I did.”
Donald Trump’s triplex is one of the examples cited by the prosecution, because its value would have been declared on the basis of a surface area almost three times greater than reality (2,700 square meters compared to 1,000), which would have made it possible to valued at $327 million.
Since Wednesday, the court has witnessed a parade of the family clan. After Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, whose hearing continues on Friday, it should be the turn, on Monday, of Donald Trump himself.
This trial is only one of the many legal troubles of the former President of the United States, criminally charged in four other cases, including that before federal justice in Washington on accusations of having attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Several criminal trials await him in 2024, in the middle of the campaign for the Republican primaries that Donald Trump hopes to win to run for the White House in a year.
While he does not face prison time in the civil trial, the case could cause him to lose control of part of his real estate empire, in addition to a $250 million fine and a ban from managing companies in New York.