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NYC Tax Agency Subpoenaed in Donald Trump Property Investigation

Newsweek logo Newsweek 2/20/2021 Darragh Roche
Donald Trump sitting in a car: Former US President Donald Trump waves to supporters lined along on the route to his Mar-a-Lago estate on January 20, 2021 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Trump is facing two separate investigations in New York. © Michael Reaves/Getty Images Former US President Donald Trump waves to supporters lined along on the route to his Mar-a-Lago estate on January 20, 2021 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Trump is facing two separate investigations in New York.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office has issued a subpoena to the New York City Tax Commission as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump's businesses.

The move is the latest indication that Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance is examining whether Trump understated the value of his New York properties in order to derive a tax benefit, according to Reuters.

New York City Tax Commission documents, along with other documents already sought from Trump's creditors, would show whether Trump overstated his properties' value when seeking loans but understated it for tax purposes.

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The city's Department of Finance assesses the market value of properties for tax bills but its valuations can be appealed to the City Tax Commission.

The commission may now have to hand over detailed income and expense accounts that the Trump Organization submitted when challenging the valuations of its properties.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office has also issued subpoenas for two of Trump's creditors - Deutsche Bank AG and Ladder Capital Finance LLC. Both helped to finance his real estate holdings.

If the documents show that the Trump Organization claimed significantly lower valuations for the same properties in tax filings than it did when seeking loans, it could be open to a charge of fraud. The properties in question include Trump Tower and Trump Plaza.

The exact nature of Vance's investigation remains unclear, however. In court filings, the Manhattan DA has said his office is looking into "possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct."

Vance's office also recently hired a prominent former federal prosecutor, Mike Pomerantz, as special assistant district attorney. He will be part of the team investigating the Trump Organization.

Pomerantz "handled major matters and internal investigations involving all aspects of alleged corporate misconduct, including securities and bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, RICO and FCPA violations, tax offenses and bribery," according to a biography from the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Vance, a Democrat, has been engaged in a long-running battle to obtain the former president's tax returns. Trump's lawyers told a court in September that Vance's request for the information was "all misdirection."

Trump called the Manhattan DA's investigation "a continuation of the witch hunt — the greatest witch hunt in history."

Separately, the Trump Organization is facing investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who's also examining whether the company overstated the value of its properties.

James' investigation reportedly involves Trump's Seven Springs property in Westchester, north of New York City and the Trump National Golf Club near Los Angeles, California.

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