Manhattan prosecutors are investigating Donald Trump’s Seven Springs estate as part of criminal and civil probes into the former president’s finances.
At the centre of the Seven Springs estate – which sprawls 213 acres – is a Georgian-style mansion that Trump’s website describes as a family retreat, despite him having not been there in four years.
In February, the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of prosecutors, ordering Trump to hand over his tax records from 2011-2019 as part of the investigation into the Trump Organization.
Trump has been able to avoid disclosing the details of his finances over the years by claiming to be under audit. But as per the ruling, investigators will now have access to all tax returns from his accounting firm over an eight-year period.
People familiar with the investigation told The Wall Street Journal that investigators have now turned their attention to the value of the state. As per the publication, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has issued new subpoenas requesting financial documents related to the estate.
Prosecutors are trying to determine whether Trump manipulated the property’s value to reap greater tax benefits from an environmental conservation agreement he made in 2015.
As per the agreement, Trump promised to preserve more than 150 acres of woodlands surrounding the mansion in exchange for a tax break of $21.1 million, The Washington Post reports.
The amount was based on a professional appraisal that valued the property at $56.5 million in 2015. However, local government assessments estimated the property to be worth much less, at around $20 million.
Duncan Levin, a former Manhattan prosecutor, told Associated Press that prosecutors will turn their attention to where they are more likely to find a violation of the law.
‘While a tax issue related to a conservation arrangement might not be as sexy as a hush-money payment, prosecutors are likely to focus on any violation of law that they find. Remember, the authorities got Al Capone on tax evasion,’ Levin said.
In 2019, Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump had previously manipulated the values of his properties. He said Trump had inflated values in some cases and minimised the value in others, depending on which would get him the best loan terms and tax benefits.
While Cohen testified that Trump had financial statements valuing Seven Springs at $291 million in 2012, during his presidency Trump’s financial disclosures valued the property between $25 million and $50 million.
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Topics: News, Donald Trump, investigation, Now