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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Donald Trump accused of inflating value of Scottish golf resorts

Donald Trump has been accused of using schemes to inflate the value of his golf clubs in Scotland.

A fraud suit has been brought against the former president and three of his children by New York attorney general Letitia James.

The lawsuit alleges that Trump, along with Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, as well as senior executives at the Trump Organization falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars.

It stated the Trump engaged in “years of illegal conduct” to inflate his net worth.

Trump has dismissed the lawsuit as “another witch hunt”.

Properties owned by Trump in Scotland are named in the suit, including the Trump Aberdeen golf course.

Donald Trump purchased a 1,400 acre plot at Menie in Aberdeenshire in 2006 for $12.6m aiming to turn it into a world-class golf course.

The development was to include hundreds of homes, as well as a five-star hotel and a golf academy.

In the lawsuit, it was noted that the valuation of the course assumed that 2,500 homes could be developed.

However, the Trump Organization obtained zoning approval to develop fewer than 1,500 cottages and apartments.

In a 2014 statement, the course was valued at $327m.

The lawsuit, however, indicates that a value of $267m – attributed on the basis of there being 2,500 homes – accounted for more than 80% of that total valuation.

Donald Trump's son's Eric Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump officially open Trump Turnberry in 2016.SNS Group

The historic course in South Ayrshire was established 116 years ago in 1906.

It was purchased by Donald Trump in 2014 from Dubai-based group Leisurecorp for around $60m.

New York officials state that between 2017 and 2021, while Trump was US President, his organisation valued the club using a fixed-assets scheme.

This meant that they did not factor in any depreciation of the assets during that time.

Since opening in 2017, the golf course has operated at a loss each year.

Therefore, the suit noted, using a valuation for the course based on the fixed asset scheme is “false and misleading”.

They added that the golf course should have been valued at a much lower figure.

What is the lawsuit aiming to achieve?

“Donald Trump engaged in years of illegal conduct.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James

Officials in New York are seeking to ban Trump, Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump for serving as an officer of director of any New York business.

They will also seek to ban Trump and the Trump Organization from acquiring real estate in New York for at least five years.

Further, they want to force Trump to pay $250m in profits made from the fraud, install a monitor to oversee the Trump Organization’s financial dealings for at least ten years, and to ban Trump and the Trump Organization from applying for loans from any financial institution charted in New York for at least five years.

In a press conference on Thursday, Attorney General James stated that the suit alleged a “years-long financial fraud scheme”.

“Donald Trump engaged in years of illegal conduct to inflate his net worth to deceive banks and the people of the great state of New York,” she said.

“Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal.

“It’s the art of the steal and there cannot be different rules for different people in this country or in this state and former presidents are no different.

“So today, we are making good on that promise, on our commitment, because no-one, no-one, is above the law.”



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