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Cushman & Wakefield appeals subpoenas order


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The doorway to Trump Tower on fifth Avenue is pictured within the Manhattan borough of Latest York City, May 19, 2021.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

Industrial real-estate services giant Cushman & Wakefield on Wednesday appealed a judge’s order that it comply with subpoenas issued by the Latest York attorney general’s office searching for documents related to its appraisals of properties owned by former President Donald Trump’s company.

Cushman & Wakefield argued that complying with the subpoena for tens of hundreds of pages of documents would compromise the confidential information of nearly 1,000 of its clients who don’t have any connection to the Trump Organization or the properties being eyed by Attorney General Letitia James in her civil investigation of Trump.

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Cushman also submitted in a court filing an affidavit from an independent valuation consultant who wrote that the documents sought by James’ office “won’t provide a reliable basis to guage or critique appraisals” of Trump properties which can be already within the AG’s possession.

“While we’re filing this appeal out of an obligation to guard the privacy of our clients and preserve the integrity our client relationships, we want to proceed working with the Office of the Attorney General and hope for a swift and successful conclusion to the investigation,” the corporate said in an announcement.

And the corporate said, “Cushman’s appraisers did nothing mistaken, and Cushman stands behind its appraisers and their appraisals.”

James is investigating the Trump Organization over claims that the corporate illegally manipulated the stated valuations of real estate assets to acquire more favorable financial terms in loans, insurance policies and taxes related to those properties.

Last month, the AG’s office said Cushman had refused to comply with subpoenas for information related to its appraisals of three Trump-owned properties — the Seven Springs Estate, Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles, and 40 Wall Street — “and data about Cushman’s larger business relationship with the Trump Organization.”

James’ office said that evidence shows the Trump Organization submitted “fraudulent or misleading information valuations of conservation easements to the Internal Revenue Service” related to the primary two of those properties.

And the office said that Cushman had issued three appraisals to Capital One Bank related to 40 Wall Street in Manhattan that valued that property at between $200 million and $220 million from 2010 through 2012, before issuing an appraisal to Ladder Capital Finance LLC in 2015 that valued the identical constructing at $550 million.

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That last appraisal was utilized by the Trump Organization to secure a loan from Ladder Capital, which employs the son of Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump company.

On April 25, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Cushman to comply with James’ subpoenas and gave the firm until late May to show over the documents.

The order got here hours after Engoron held Trump personally in contempt of court for failing to comply with one other subpoena from James for business documents she believed to be in his possession.

Engoron on Wednesday lifted that contempt finding on the condition that Trump pay James a $110,000 high-quality and supply additional information concerning the searches for the documents that Trump claims he doesn’t have.

Cushman earlier Wednesday asked Engoron to reconsider his decision upholding the subpoenas directed at the corporate. Engoron quickly denied that request, calling it “without merit” and “simply a rehash of issues properly decided by this court in prior opinion.”

Cushman said in court filings related to its appeal Wednesday that last September its lawyers met virtually with officials from James’ office to supply appraisals prepared by the corporate for the Trump Organization on Seven Springs, Trump National Golf Club-Los Angeles and 40 Wall Street. In January, Cushman agreed “to confer” with James’ office “to handle issues raised by [the attorney general’s team] in the course of the September” meeting.

Cushman also said that the attorney general’s office confirmed in writing that Cushman’s presentation of the Trump-related materials “constituted confidential settlement discussions.”

The corporate said that when James’ office asked Engoron to uphold the subpoenas issued to Cushman for other documents it “breached its guarantees to Cushman” by including information obtained from Cushman within the January meeting.

“Cushman was promised and expected” that material to be treated confidentially, the corporate said in an announcement.

A spokesperson for James said, in an announcement to CNBC: “The court has clearly ruled that Cushman & Wakefield must comply with our subpoenas and switch over information that’s relevant to our investigation into Donald Trump and the Trump Organization, and has summarily rejected their attempt today to hunt reconsideration of those rulings.”

“While they’ve a right to appeal, now we have a right to proceed this investigation and to hunt answers,” the spokesperson said.

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