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How Trump Avoided Disclosing Eight Loans On His Ethics Filings


Дек 11, 2022

Donald Trump did not include at least eight loans on financial disclosure reports he filed as president. Although one of those omissions caused a dust up with ethics officials and a second one might have violated the law, the other six were legally excluded from the filings, which are supposed to give the public an understanding of officials’ finances but are so riddled with loopholes that they offer only a partial picture, hiding deals involving family members and partners.

“We definitely learned from him that the reporting requirements are not sufficient,” said Virginia Canter, who worked as White House associate counsel in the Clinton and Obama administrations and now serves as chief ethics counsel for a watchdog group named Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Here, Forbes outlines the eight missing loans, as well as the rules that allowed the former president to exclude them from his filings.

Creditor: Unclear

Borrowers: Donald Trump and Vornado Realty Trust

Trump’s share: $285 million

The former president owns a 30% stake in 1290 Avenue of the Americas, a giant office building in midtown Manhattan, alongside publicly traded Vornado, which holds the remaining 70%. In 2012, the partners worked with Deutsche Bank, UBS, Goldman Sachs and the state-owned Bank of China to borrow $950 million. The lenders then sold the debt off as commercial mortgage backed securities. Even though Trump’s 30% share of the debt came to $285 million, making it one of the most significant loans in his portfolio, he did not have to disclose it on his federal filings, since he held the debt through a partnership and was not personally liable for it.

Creditors: MetLife, Pacific Life

Borrowers: Donald Trump and Vornado Realty Trust

Trump’s share: About $170 million

Trump also partners with Vornado at 555 California Street, an office building in San Francisco. Federal ethics laws did not require the former president to disclose the debt connected to that building, but neither his interest in 555 California Street nor the one in 1290 Avenue of the Americas was a secret. Vornado shared information about both properties in its public filings. The partners used insurers MetLife and Pacific Life to borrow against the San Francisco tower in 2011. Shortly after Trump left office in 2021, JPMorgan Chase helped to refinance the property, upping the debt load from roughly $530 million to $1.2 billion and allowing the former president to suck out an estimated $160 million.

Creditor: Daewoo

Borrower: Donald Trump

Trump’s share: $20 million

Through entities he wholly owned, Trump owed a South Korean outfit named Daewoo $19.8 million while he was campaigning for office in 2016, according to internal Trump Organization records. Five-and-a-half months into his presidency, he wiped out that debt, which never appeared on any of his financial disclosures and was hidden from the public until Forbes exposed it a week ago. Federal law requires officials to disclose personal loans, but it does not demand that they list loans to their companies, unless the officials are personally liable for those loans. It is not clear whether Trump personally guaranteed the Daewoo debt, making it unknown whether he broke the law or simply exploited a loophole. The Trump Organization did not respond to questions about the debt.

Creditor: City National Bank

Borrowers: Donald Trump and Phil Ruffin

Trump’s share: $15 million

In September 2016, as Trump’s campaign was entering its final stages, the real estate mogul and his billionaire partner Phil Ruffin borrowed $30 million against a Las Vegas property that they own in a 50-50 partnership. One month later, Trump dumped $10 million of cash into his presidential campaign. Financial disclosure reports include a page for liabilities, but no trace of the debt appeared there. Evidence of the loan did, however, show up in the local recorder’s office in Clark County, Nevada. Trump and Ruffin paid it off in 2018.

Creditor: Donald Trump

Borrower: Eric Trump

Trump’s share: $2 million

Forbes revealed last month that Donald Trump held receivables from his three eldest children while in office. Those loans never made it on his federal disclosures because officeholders do not have to list receivables from immediate family members. “I think the leniency there is they don’t want to embarrass somebody’s deadbeat younger brother,” explained Walter Shaub, who once served as director of the Office of Government Ethics.

Creditor: Donald Trump

Borrower: Ivanka Trump

Trump’s share: $1.5 million

Months after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, Ivanka Trump purchased a heavily discounted condo from her father, using money that apparently also came from her father. Ivanka left New York about a dozen years later to join her dad in the White House, where she and her husband Jared Kushner both served as advisors to the president. Ethics rules allowed all three to exclude the intrafamily loan from their disclosures.

Creditor: Donald Trump

Borrower: Donald Trump Jr.

Trump’s share: $1 million

Familial finances have spurred controversy in both the Trump and Biden administrations. Yet the public did not know about loans between Donald Trump and his eldest children, who appear to have all borrowed money at the start of their careers to purchase apartments in Trump-branded buildings.

Creditor: Michael Cohen

Borrower: Donald Trump

Trump’s share: $130,000

Trump’s former lawyer paid porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000. Because Trump ultimately reimbursed Cohen, The Office of Government Ethics made it clear that the president should have listed the arrangement as a liability on his 2017 financial disclosure report. The acting director of the office reached out to the Department of Justice, which did not seem to take much interest in the omission, and Trump ultimately included a footnote about it on his 2018 disclosure. “I think that should have been disclosed,” said Canter, “but I think that any loan to which he was personally liable, you know that he owed a bank, would have been a much clearer case.”

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