Hours after finding former President Donald Trump in contempt of court, a Manhattan judge ordered real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield to comply with a subpoena seeking information about their business with his company.
“For the second time today, a judge has made clear that no one is above the law,” New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said in a statement on Monday afternoon. “Cushman & Wakefield’s work for Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization is clearly relevant to our investigation, and we are pleased that has now been confirmed by the court. Our investigation will continue undeterred.”
The ruling extends the losing streak before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who also ordered the former president, his daughter Ivanka Trump, and his son Donald Trump Jr. to sit for depositions. Trump’s attorney Alina Habba vowed to appeal the contempt order, which imposed a $10,000 per day fine until he complies with pending subpoenas whose deadline was March 31. Trump’s team already has appealed the prior deposition order, which remains pending.
The case before Engoron involves an investigation to determine whether Trump and his business improperly overstated or devalued his assets for certain tax benefits.
Earlier this month, the attorney general’s office filed a 29-page motion to comply with subpoenas concerning their appraisals for three Trump-owned properties: the Trump family’s palatial Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County, N.Y.; the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles, Calif.; and the 40 Wall Street office building in downtown Manhattan. James had claimed that the firm refused to comply with subpoenas issued last September and this past February.
A spokesperson for Cushman & Wakefield, a publicly traded, global real estate firm that reported $9.4 billion in revenue last year, strongly disputed that claim in a statement.
“While we acknowledge the ruling, any suggestion that Cushman & Wakefield has not responded in good faith to the Attorney General’s investigation continues to be fundamentally untrue,” the firm’s representative Grace Wilk said in an email. “We made it clear during the hearing that our firm has devoted significant time, resource and expense in our efforts to cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation including sharing tens of thousands of items of information. Once again, Cushman & Wakefield affirms that we stand behind our appraisals and appraisers.”
The firm had previously objected to the subpoenas on alleged overbreadth, confidentiality and harassment. The office of the attorney general strongly denied those assertions.
“Those objections are nonsense. Where, as here, OAG issues an investigatory subpoena on a sufficient factual basis, it is not engaged in harassment,” Assistant Attorney General Kevin C. Wallace wrote in a filing. “As set forth above, Cushman is a major global real estate firm with a significant relationship with a commercial organization; that organization, as Cushman came to learn, and as the Court well knows, is under investigation for engaging in fraudulent or misleading conduct in connection with appraisals and financial statements. The basis for the Cushman’s decision to terminate the relationship—and the context of the relationship itself—plainly is an appropriate subject of inquiry. The obvious relevance of that decision, and the pertinence of Cushman’s relationship with the Trump Organization more broadly, bely any assertion that the subpoenas at issue are meant to harass Cushman; indeed, other firms also have received repeated subpoenas for relevant material in this investigation.”
(Photo via Allison Joyce at Getty Images)
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