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Trump filed ‘fraudulent’ financial information about overseas golf clubs to US government: watchdog

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Trump's forays into Scottish tourism and politics over the years have had mixed results, with controversy centred on his development of a golf course near Aberdeen AFP/File / Andy BUCHANAN

President Donald Trump filed “fraudulent” documents to the U.S. government inflating the value of his golf clubs in Ireland and Scotland, according to a left-leaning government watchdog group.

The American Democracy Legal Fund called on Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and the FBI to investigate whether Trump broke the law by filing false financial disclosure documents, according to a letter obtained by Politico.

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Trump reported to the U.S. government that his Trump International Golf Links Aberdeen and Trump Turnberry resorts in Scotland and the Trump Doonbeg in Ireland earned about $179 million in revenue between 2014 and 2018, according to research compiled by the group. Documents from the U.K. and Ireland show significantly less revenue — around $152 million — and the resorts actually lost $77 million over that time frame when expenses are included.

Trump reported to the U.S. government in 2018 that the two Scottish resorts were worth at least $100 million, but records from the U.K. show the resorts actually had about $80 million more debt than assets.

“The Trump Organization repeatedly reported fraudulent financial details to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, while reporting a different set of numbers to U.K. and Irish regulators,” Brad Woodhouse, a longtime Democratic Party operative and president of the American Democracy Legal Fund, said in the letter to Vance. “If the Trump Organization has seen fit to fake this information to federal agencies, it is likely they have used falsified information in business dealings regarding these courses.”

Woodhouse separately asked FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, to investigate “apparent inconsistencies, misstatements and lies in President Trump’s annual financial disclosure filings.”

After a win in the Supreme Court case over whether he can subpoena Trump’s tax returns, Vance’s office told a judge this month that it was investigating “public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” including bank and insurance fraud.

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Vance, who already subpoenaed and obtained documents from Deutsche Bank, which has been Trump’s primary lender for 20 years after other mainstream banks refused to do business with him following a series of bankruptcies and defaults, is seeking to obtain years of Trump’s tax returns as part of the investigation.

Last year, former longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen testified to Congress that Trump repeatedly inflated the value of his assets when seeking loans from the bank but deflated the value of the same assets in tax filings.

“It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” Cohen said.

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Former Forbes reporter Jonathan Greenberg revealed in 2018 that Trump had even disguised himself as “John Barron” to convince the magazine to include him on its list of wealthiest Americans.

The Trump Organization and the White House did not comment on the Politico report, but an administration official told the outlet that officials at the Office of Government Ethics do not fact-check financial disclosures. The report noted that Trump was required to report his assets and income on the disclosures but “always appears to list his company’s revenue instead, not taking into account expenses or debt, allowing him to hide his company’s losses and his actual income.”

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Kathleen Clark, an ethics expert at the Washington University School of Law, told the outlet, the allegation “raises flags” and “begs for an investigation.”

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2020 Election

CNN’s Tapper fires back at White House’s Meadows for personal attack about mask-wearing

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During a long and very contentious interview with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, CNN "State of the Union" host Jake Tapper snapped back at Donald Trump's righthand man for trying to mock him for not wearing a mask during the interview where Meadows was not in the studio.

After grilling Meadows for agreeing to designate Vice President Mike Pence as an "essential worker" so he can continue to campaign for Donald Trump after his office became a COVID-19 hotspot, the CNN host pressed Meadows why the president continues to refuse to wear a mask and doesn't demand it of his rallygoers.

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2020 Election

Chris Wallace battles GOP chairwoman over laptop smear: ‘Do you have any proof Joe Biden took one penny?’

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Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel on Sunday refused to say if she had any proof of allegations of corruption against Democratic nominee Joe Biden's son Hunter.

Fox News host Chris Wallace grilled McDaniel about the Trump campaign's smear against the Biden family on Fox News Sunday.

"Do you have any proof -- because he's denied it -- do you have any proof that Joe Biden every took one penny from either a foreign country or a foreign company?" Wallace asked.

"I think that's incumbent upon the press to start investigating," McDaniel replied. "I think what's frightening is we should have a free and fair press that should be looking at a laptop that has not been disputed by the Biden campaign to be authentic. These emails are deeply troubling as it looks like Hunter Biden is negotiating with a Chinese energy company to profit, not just for himself, but for his father."

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2020 Election

‘Terrified little boy’ Trump is going to ‘burn it all down’ because he can’t face losing the election: Mary Trump

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In an interview with the Guardian, Donald Trump's niece, Mary Trump said there is no telling what will happen in the final days of the 2020 presidential and then its aftermath, but she is worried that the president will "burn it all down" as he is faced with losing the election and then facing criminal charges in the aftermath.

Relying on her background as a psychologist, the president's niece issued a dire warning that if the president goes down, he will try to take everything around him down with him.

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