Trump profited from sales of Sunny Isles condos to foreign buyers

Candidate's real estate career could translate into policy changes if elected

Oct.October 14, 2016 03:30 PM

It’s no secret that presidential hopeful Donald Trump has a less-than-favorable position on immigrants coming to the U.S.

But years before he started down the campaign trail, Trump was helping sell Sunny Isles Beach condos to the same demographic he now bashes — foreigners.

The real estate tycoon was brought on by Michael Dezer in 2004 to brand a three-building development in Sunny Isles with 813 luxury condos, which would later be known as the Trump Towers.

According to the Miami Herald, Trump’s branding agreement meant his organization would help market the condos, earning a fee for every preconstruction unit sold. The actual sales were left to Dezer’s team.

Those units were then sold to a host of wealthy foreigners: by the Herald’s count, 41 percent of unit owners in the three towers are Latin America, 20 percent are Americans, 7 percent are Russian and 5 percent are Canadian. Separately, more than 60 percent of Trump Tower unit owners are hidden behind opaque offshore companies.

How much Trump actually raked in from the branding agreement is unknown, the Herald reported, as the candidate has repeatedly refused to reveal his tax returns, citing ongoing audits from the IRS. The Real Deal recently published an interactive guide to where the Republican nominee’s fortunes come from.

Trump’s career as a real estate developer could translate into policy decisions if he’s elected.

Shell companies are ubiquitous in South Florida’s real estate market, prompting federal investigators to launch money laundering probes and the Obama administration to call for a closure of loopholes.

The federal investigation has had a chilling effect on local condo purchases, drying up the same pool of buyers that routinely purchase Trump-branded units, the Herald reported. That means the presidential hopeful is unlikely to champion stricter enforcement, former White House attorney Richard Painter told the Herald.

“It strikes me as hypocritical,” Richard Gordon, director of the Financial Integrity Institute, told the Herald. “He’s repeatedly made comments about immigrants bringing crime to the U.S. … [But] his principles appear to be doing whatever he can for himself to make money.” [Miami Herald] — Sean Stewart-Muniz

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