Donald Trump has interesting ways of valuing his holdings, including his own net worth. Mr. Trump, with his apparent combed over hair, seems to have an ego greater than the City of New York.
So when Trump sued his Hong Kong real estate partners four years ago for not getting a good price on a major Manhattan development and evading taxes, it seemed like sour grapes, as the New York Times puts it.
Today, we find out Trump had good reason to quibble with the $1.76 billion valuation: the Manhattan District Attorney is going after a former partner for grand larceny and tax evasion
The defendant, BARRY D. GROSS, 45, has been indicted on charges of grand larceny, falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing, filing a false personal tax return, and failure to file unincorporated business taxes. The crimes charged in the indictment occurred between February 2006 and September 2008.
Back in 2005, it was the biggest residential land deal in the history of the city—Hudson Waterfront Associates, the Hong Kong-based consortium that worked with Donald Trump to develop and market the massive Trump Place development on the West Side, sold a 77 acre parcel of land to Extell for $1.76 billion. Now the Manhattan DA’s office revealed it just arrested the project director for tax evasion and are looking into whether Hudson Waterfront evaded taxes on a $17 million portion of deal.
According to the Post, “Prosecutors say [Barry] Gross hid $1 million that he earned on the deal by shifting the money to a shell company the next year, then filing amended tax returns to hide his fraud.” Gross’s lawyer—Benjamin Brafman—”downplayed the DA’s grand-larceny and fraud case against his client as an overblown tax dispute that should have been settled in civil court.”
But, Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau says that Hudson Water paid a $17 million “finder’s fee” to a British Virgin Island company, Fineview, which is believed to be just a shell company. The NY Times Reports, “Mr. Morgenthau said investigators were able to track the flow of the money, which was transferred to from the Channel Islands and to London, before ending up in Hong Kong in the hands of someone associated with the investors. By routing the $17 million through Fineview, Mr. Morgenthau said, the investors were able to avoid paying income taxes on it as part of the purchase.”
Morgenthau said more arrests are coming. And now it looks like Donald Trump, who had complained Hudson Waterfront could have gotten more than $1.76 billion, is a victim in this, too, since some of that $17 million should have gone to him! The Donald told the Times, “I greatly commend the district attorney for his work and feel certain it will continue.”