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Amid an ongoing legal battle over the businesses of Donald Trump, global real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield has announced that it will provide law enforcement with legal documents related to the former president’s real estate deals.
The company explained in a statement Sunday that it will turn the documents over to the Office of the Attorney General of New York. The move is part of a deal with the New York attorney general that allows Cushman & Wakefield to avoid paying $10,000 a day after being held in contempt of court.
Cushman & Wakefield did not respond to Inman’s request for comment Monday. However, journalists on Twitter and Lawandcrime.com reported on the statement.
The case stems from an investigation New York Attorney General Letitia James is conducting into Trump and his family businesses for allegedly manipulating the value of real estate assets.
The properties in question include golf courses in the U.S. and Scotland, as well as buildings in Manhattan, according to Reuters. James said in a statement she has uncovered evidence that Trump and the Trump Organization “falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit,” Reuters also reported.
Cushman & Wakefield — a global commercial real estate firm with tens of thousands of employees in dozens of countries — appraised several Trump properties that are now part of the investigation, according to the New York Times.
Cushman & Wakefield’s role in the case took a potentially costly turn last week when a judge said the company failed to comply with subpoenas, also according to the Times. The judge consequently held Cushman & Wakefield in contempt and ordered the firm to pay $10,000 a day until it turned over the documents James’ office wanted.
James’ office also did not immediately respond to Inman’s request for comment Monday.
The investigation has been the focus of intense interest among some parts of the political class.
But it also highlights the role of real estate in Trump’s empire and the challenges surrounding appraisals. Even among ordinary houses, appraisals can vary significantly. This leads to the fairly common situation of consumers and their agents getting multiple appraisals for a property if the first one doesn’t produce the desired results.
The more expensive and unique the property, the fewer comparables it’ll have — making it both harder to appraise and harder to verify any existing appraisal’s accuracy.
The investigation into Trump’s companies then serves as a warning to any real estate industry members who might use the challenges of appraisals to their advantage, or who might not take enough care to ensure their appraisals are accurate.