By Karen Freifeld and Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -New York state’s attorney general is seeking to compel real estate company Cushman & Wakefield to comply with subpoenas in connection with its civil probe into the Trump Organization, according to court filings on Friday.
Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating former U.S. President Donald Trump’s business practices for three-and-a-half years, with a focus on whether his company misstated the values of its real estate properties to obtain favorable loans and tax deductions.
James said on Friday that Cushman had conducted appraisals for several Trump Organization properties, including the Seven Springs estate in New York’s Westchester County, the Trump National Golf Course in Los Angeles, and 40 Wall Street in downtown Manhattan.
James’ office is seeking to determine whether the appraisals prepared by Cushman were fraudulent or misleading, but Cushman has refused to comply with a subpoena issued in February 2022 and has only partially complied with an earlier subpoena, according to a filing.
“While Cushman initially expressed its desire to comply with OAG’s subpoenas, the company nonetheless withheld hundreds of responsive documents and instructed four witnesses not to answer numerous questions based on meritless privilege assertions by the Trump Organization,” the filing from James’ office read.
A Cushman spokesperson said the filings did not accurately characterize the company’s responses.
“Any suggestion that Cushman & Wakefield has not responded in good faith to the Attorney General’s investigation is fundamentally untrue,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We stand behind our appraisers and our work.”
Cushman said in January 2021 that it had cut ties with the Trump Organization.
Trump, a Republican who lost his bid for re-election in November 2020, denies wrongdoing and has dismissed James’ probe as a politically motivated witch hunt. James, a Democrat, is running for re-election for her post.
James’ pursuit of Cushman’s records comes after she asked a New York judge to hold Trump in contempt of court for not turning over documents she subpoenaed, and to fine him $10,000 for each day he does not comply.
On Friday, New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron said he would hold a hearing on April 25 on whether Trump should be held in contempt.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Pullin)