The discovery increases scrutiny of Trump’s longtime appraiser and raises questions about the accuracy of his work as New York Attorney General Letitia James continues his investigation into Trump’s business.
Judge Arthur Engoron presented the finding as part of James’ effort to compel Cushman & Wakefield, the appraiser, to respond to subpoenas. The subpoenas were issued in September 2021 and February 2022 as part of the attorney general’s civil investigation into the finances of the Trump Organization. Earlier this month, the attorney general’s office said its investigation had expanded to include Cushman and whether she had “engaged in fraudulent or misleading practices in her issuance of the ratings.”
In a three-page order, the judge said after reviewing several documents in private that he found that they indicated that Cushman and Wakefield “were not consistent in adhering to internal quality control practices when conducting assessments on behalf of the Trump Organization. Thus, it is within the OAG’s purview to investigate assessments of C&W to determine whether C&W has appropriately and accurately disclosed to regulators and other government authorities whether its internal quality controls have been followed.”
The judge denied Cushman’s request to strike down the subpoenas and ordered her to comply in full by May 27.
A representative for Cushman was not immediately available for comment.
Previously, a spokesperson said: “Any suggestion that Cushman & Wakefield did not respond in good faith to the Attorney General’s investigation is fundamentally incorrect” and “The Attorney General’s filings do not accurately portray Cushman & Wakefield’s responses to subpoenas and previous inquiries. We stand behind our appraisers. And we worked.”
Cushman was the Trump Organization’s first appraiser, and helped it evaluate several properties, including the family complex known as Seven Springs, the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles and 40 Wall Street, according to court filings. Civil subpoenas are seeking Cushman’s business documents relating to those and other properties, and information about payments to the Trump Organization and its decision to stop working for Trump in January 2021. In addition, authorities are seeking information about Cushman’s appraiser who went into business. Trump organization.
Cushman regularly provided the Trump Organization with real estate data that the attorney general’s office said was ultimately used in preparing the financial statements. There have been “hundreds” of cases in which this data has been cited, according to the attorney general’s office, as “support for inflated valuations” included in Trump’s financial statements.
Attorneys for the attorney general’s office said Cushman failed to comply with a subpoena sent in February and recently stopped submitting documents related to the September subpoena. In addition, the attorney general’s office said Cushman instructed four of its employees not to answer questions during testimony, citing liens.
The Office of the Attorney General notes that Cushman’s valuations of 40 Wall Street consolidated commercial mortgage-backed securities differed in key respects from previous valuations. The rest of the information about those loans was revised in the court filing.
The investigators said they looked forward to exploring what Trump requested, “whether the client paid the appraisers in any way, and whether Cushman’s significant business with the Trump Organization in any way affected the valuations prepared or other valuation-related information provided, or Cushman’s objectivity has been weakened.”
In a statement issued Thursday, the company disagreed with Engoron’s ruling and said it was evaluating its next steps.
“We fundamentally reject the court’s suggestion that our appraisers used inconsistent internal quality control practices that had any impact on the assessed values of the Trump Organization properties,” a spokesman for Cushman said.
“Over the past two years, we have cooperated in good faith with the attorney general’s investigation. We have responded to four subpoenas and eight subpoenas and have submitted tens of thousands of documents at the request of the attorney general’s office. However, we feel that the latest request from the court, which is seeking Information about our work with hundreds of clients who have absolutely nothing to do with the Trump Organization is very unreasonable and broad.”
This story has been updated with comment from Cushman & Wakefield.