Judge says Cushman failed to properly value Trump properties

Firm allegedly followed marching orders of ex-president

Judge Arthur Engoron, Cushman & Wakefield's Brett White, former U.S. president Donald Trump (LinkedIn, Getty Images, Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)
Judge Arthur Engoron, Cushman & Wakefield's Brett White, former U.S. president Donald Trump (LinkedIn, Getty Images, Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)

UPDATED May 8, 2022, 8:49 p.m.: A Manhattan judge is taking a dim view of Cushman & Wakefield’s role in allegedly misleading valuations of Trump Organization property.

Judge Arthur Engoron accused the commercial real estate giant of being inconsistent in “adhering to its internal quality control practices when conducting appraisals on behalf of the Trump Organization,” the Daily Beast reported.

The state judge’s comment was in his Wednesday order compelling Cushman to comply with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into Donald Trump and his eponymous real estate firm.

View of Seven Springs in Westchester (Trump Organization)

Engoron indicated he personally reviewed sensitive documents regarding Cushman’s appraisals. Earlier this week, the assistant attorney general argued that in two instances, including one at Trump’s Seven Springs in Westchester County, Cushman appraisers filled in valuations as instructed by the Trump Organization or the lawyer it hired, rather than independently assess development timelines. The firm’s grand plans for the site never came to fruition.

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A Cushman & Wakefield spokesperson said the Daily Beast story was “filled with inaccuracies” and that the court case is only about a failure to provide documents.

“We fundamentally reject the court’s suggestion that our appraisers used inconsistent internal quality control practices that had any impact on the appraised values of the Trump Organization properties,” a statement from the company said.

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The statement added that James’ office “totally mischaracterizes the testimony of multiple Cushman witnesses” and that the firm never tried to appease its client. Rather, it often rejected suggestions from the Trump Organization and its outside counsel, the statement claimed.

The real estate services company has until May 27 to turn over documents for James’ investigation. In a statement after the judge compelled the company to comply with subpoenas, the firm claimed suggestions that it hasn’t responded in good faith to the investigation are “fundamentally untrue.”

On Monday, the judge held the former president in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena from James. Trump was ordered to pay $10,000 per day in penalties until he turns over the requested documents or convinces the court that it made a good-faith effort to find them. The Trump Organization plans to appeal.

James said Cushman appraised several Trump properties, including 40 Wall Street in Manhattan. Her civil probe is looking into whether the Trump Organization misstated real estate values for tax benefits or favorable loan terms. The ex-president has called the Democrat’s probe a politically motivated witch hunt.

Earlier this year, James claimed investigators had “uncovered significant evidence” that fraudulent or misleading valuations were provided to lenders, insurers and the IRS.

Trump and the Trump Organization have fought the allegations in the civil probe, as well as an ongoing criminal investigation being led by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

This article has been updated with a response from Cushman & Wakefield.

[The Daily Beast] — Holden Walter-Warner