Donald Trump accused of inflating value of Aberdeenshire resort
Donald Trump has been accused of inflating the value of his golf course estate in Aberdeenshire as part of wide-ranging legal action alleging business fraud.
The Trump International estate at Balmedie is mentioned in a lengthy court filing by New York’s attorney general.
It accuses the former US president, members of his family, his business organisation and its senior management of years of financial fraud in order to gain a number of economic benefits.
Mr Trump’s lawyer has described the claims as “meritless” and said attorney general Letitia James is trying to advance her own political agenda.
A key part of Mr James’s legal action is that Mr Trump used deceptive schemes to inflate the value of his organisation’s club facilities around the world.
The 214-page document, which is the result of a three-year investigation, said Mr Trump inflated the value of his business assets in order to induce banks to lend on more favourable terms.
It said the value of his club properties were lumped together to conceal significant swings in the value of individual assets.
A statement from the attorney general’s office said: “The valuation of this golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland, assumed 2,500 homes could be developed when the Trump Organisation had obtained zoning approval to develop less than 1,500 cottages and apartments, many of which were expressly identified as being only for short-term rental.
“The 267 million US dollar value attributed to those 2,500 homes accounted for more than 80% of the total 327 million US dollar valuation for Aberdeen on the 2014 Statement of Financial Condition.”
Mr Trump’s coastal golf course in Aberdeenshire opened in 2012 after a controversial planning process.
In February this year, a plan by the Trump Organisation to build up to 500 new homes and 50 cottages near the estate was granted permission in principle by Aberdeenshire Council.
However a number of conditions were attached before any development could take place.
One of these stated the number of houses should not exceed 550.
Alina Habba, a lawyer for Mr Trump, said the lawsuit “is neither focused on the facts nor the law – rather it is solely focused on advancing the attorney general’s political agenda”.
She added: “It is abundantly clear that the attorney general’s office has exceeded its statutory authority by prying into transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place.
“We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the attorney general’s meritless claims.”
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