A massive new joint investigation by Pro Publica and WNYC reveals President Donald Trump and his children engage in systematic deceit to lure investors to its building projects — and then still walk away with fistfuls of cash even when the projects collapse.
One particularly illustrative example of the Trump family’s business practices is the Trump Ocean Club Panama, which formally evicted the Trump Organization earlier this year and ripped Trump’s name off its sign.
For starters, Pro Publica and WNYC note, Ivanka Trump pitched investors on the project by blatantly lying about the number of units that had already been sold. In fact, Ivanka even claimed to have personally sold 40 units herself, although it was unlikely that she had even sold one.
She also told a journalist at one point that 90 percent of the units in the building had already been sold — even though this wasn’t even close to being true.
“Not only were the Panama sales figures inflated, but many ‘purchases’ turned out to be an illusion,” Pro Publica and WNYC write. “Given that the ‘buyers’ were often shadowy shell companies or other paper entities, it was nearly impossible to discern who the actual purchasers were, let alone why they backed out.”
Even more damning is the way that the family managed to make millions on the Panama project even after it failed. According to Pro Publica and WNYC, the Trumps often claim to not be deeply involved in many deals such as the Panama hotel, as they claim that they only engage in licensing agreements in which they have little control over how their projects are carried out.
It turns out, however, that the Trump family has deep involvement in these kinds of projects, which is how they manage to make money off them even when they go belly up.
“Trump licensed his name for an initial fee of $1 million… but that was just the beginning of the revenue streams, a lengthy and varied assortment that granted him a piece of everything from sales of apartment units to a cut of minibar sales, and was notable for the myriad ways in which both success and failure triggered payments to him,” the publication writes. “Consider the final accounting: In the wake of the project’s bankruptcy, a 50 percent default rate and his company’s expulsion from managing the hotel, Donald Trump walked away with between $30 million and $55 million.”