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Monitor Report Highlights Overvaluation of Trump’s Golf Course Assets

An independent monitor’s report has raised concerns about the financial practices surrounding Donald Trump’s golf courses, suggesting that he overestimated their value while being scrutinized by the courts.

Monitor’s Findings on Overvaluation

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Monitor Barbara Jones revealed in her report that Donald Trump had artificially inflated the value of his golf courses by not accounting for equipment depreciation, resulting in an inflated property valuation.

Trump’s Response

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Trump’s lawyer, Chris Kise, strongly contested Jones’ findings, labeling them as “shameful” and emphasizing that Jones was giving undue importance to the value of equipment such as tractors and lawn mowers in golf course maintenance.

Judge’s Decision Pending

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Barbara Jones submitted her report to Judge Arthur Engoron, who is set to decide this week on the penalties that Trump should face for fraudulent asset evaluations that took place before Jones assumed her role as a monitor.

Summary Judgment and Fraudulent Activities

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Back in September, Judge Engoron issued a partial summary judgment in a case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, ruling that Trump and top Trump Organization executives had engaged in fraudulent activities.

Trump had Exaggerated the Value of his Assets

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’The judgment concluded that Trump had exaggerated the value of his assets to secure more favorable terms from lenders and insurers.

In response, the companies were stripped of their business certificates, and Barbara Jones was appointed to monitor them.

Upcoming Rulings and Claims

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Judge Engoron will soon rule on the amount Trump must pay in damages, along with six other accusations that include falsifying business records, insurance fraud, and conspiracy claims.

Attorney General James is seeking the return of $370 million in profits that Trump made.

Depreciation Disclosure Issue

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Jones pointed out in her report that, “in 2022 and 2023, income statements provided to a finance company for certain golf course properties with material fixed assets did not include depreciation or presented depreciation as $0.”

She also noted discussions with the Trump Organization regarding the relevance of such disclosures.

Challenges in Information Access

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Additionally, Jones faced difficulties in obtaining information from the Trump real estate companies concerning Trump’s sale of the license to operate the Ferry Point golf resort in the Bronx.

The transaction occurred after a two-year legal dispute that followed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempt to remove Trump from the Ferry Point golf course in the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol riots.

Delay in Information Sharing

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“The Trump Organization sold its right to operate Ferry Point to Bally’s in September 2023.

In connection with the transaction, certain financial information was provided to Bally’s between June and August 2023. I did not receive this information until August 28, 2023,” Jones wrote.

Issues with Trial Balances

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Jones also highlighted discrepancies in the February and March 2022 monthly unaudited trial balances provided to Bally’s, which she deemed “improperly prepared” and inconsistent with balances from other months.

Depreciation Dispute

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Kise disputed Jones’ concerns about depreciation, stating that the depreciation line had no impact on the finance company and that sending them internal financial statements with a depreciation of $0 was not an issue.

Specificity of the Issue

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Kise clarified that the statements with zero depreciation were provided solely to John Deere Financial and pertained to golf course maintenance equipment such as lawn mowers and tractors.

Trump Organization’s Explanation

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Kise asserted that Jones’ claim about the Trump Organization providing incorrect information to Bally’s was false.

He contended that the Trump entities had explained the monthly unaudited trial balances to the monitor, emphasizing their irrelevance.

Purpose of Trial Balances

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Kise further clarified that the property-level internal, unaudited monthly operational trial balances sent to Bally’s were intended as a sample to help Bally’s gain insights into the golf course’s operations, including cash balances and inventory levels. They were not meant to be comprehensive or all-inclusive, according to Kise. 

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