President Donald Trump's two eldest children knowingly took part in a fraud scheme to sell luxury condominiums, according to a new book about the family's business.
The family's dealings around the Trump SoHo project fell under criminal investigation, which was dropped in 2011, but the new book American Oligarchs: The Kushners, The Trumps And The Marriage Of Money And Power reveals email correspondence that appears to show Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump engaged in fraud, reported The Guardian.
"(Email evidence) showed a coordinated, deliberate and knowing effort to deceive buyers," wrote journalist and author Andrea Bernstein. "In one email, the Trumps discussed how to coordinate false information they had given to prospective buyers. Because the sales levels had been overstated at the beginning of the sales process, any statement showing a lower level could reveal the untruths.”
Trump previewed the 46-story tower in lower Manhattan during a 2006 episode of NBC's "The Apprentice," but sales proved disappointing -- especially after business partner Felix Sater's criminal past was revealed.
Only about 15 percent to 30 percent of the units had been sold by the start of 2009, according to figures filed with state and federal agencies, but the future president's children presented a rosier picture in public.
Ivanka Trump told Reuters in June 2008 that 60 percent of them had been sold, and Trump Jr. told Real Deal magazine in April 2009 that 55 percent of units had sold, according to Bernstein.
Buyers later sued Trump, complaining that they had been defrauded by inflated sales claims, and the Manhattan district attorney’s office then began a criminal investigation of the case.
The Trumps feared the damning evidence they left behind in their email correspondence, which was first revealed by ProPublica in 2017.
“According to a person who read them, the Trumps worried that a reporter might be on to them," Bernstein wrote. "In yet another email chain that included Don Jr. and Ivanka, the younger generation of Trumps issued the email equivalent of a knowing chuckle, saying that nobody would ever find them out, because only people on the email chain or in the Trump Organization knew about the deception."
One person who read the emails told Bernstein there was "no doubt" Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump "approved, knew of, agreed to, and intentionally inflated the numbers to make more sales."
"They know it was wrong," that source told the author.
At least two other sources said the Trump children clearly and knowingly lied about sales figures.
"I was shocked by the words Ivanka used," another source said.
Trump settled the civil suit in November 2011 by agreeing to refund 90 percent of $3.16 million in deposits while refusing to admit any wrongdoing.
The buyers also agreed, as part of the settlement, to stop helping the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation of fraud claims.
Trump's lawyers also insisted on a letter sent by the buyers to district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. stating that no crime had been committed, which the prosecutor had never seen before.
Vance ended up spiking the case if the buyers refused to say they had been victims of fraud.