Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump took part in a fraudulent scheme to sell units in a luxury New York condominium-hotel and “knew they were lying”, according to a new book that explores how the current US president built his business empire.
Questions have long surrounded a criminal investigation into the Trump family’s dealings around the Trump SoHo that was dropped in 2011. Public disclosure of email correspondence revealed that Don Jr and Ivanka knowingly used figures that exaggerated how well the condos were selling in a ploy to lure more buyers.
Trump first previewed the 46-storey Trump SoHo in lower Manhattan with fanfare in 2006 on his reality TV show The Apprentice, boasting “this brilliant $370m work of art will be an awe-inspiring masterpiece”. But sales of units proved disappointing, especially after it was revealed one of Trump’s partners, Russian-born Felix Sater, had a criminal past.
According to data filed with state and federal agencies, only 15% to 30% had been sold by the start of 2009, the New York Times reported. But in June 2008, Ivanka told the Reuters news agency that 60% had been sold, while in April 2009, Don Jr claimed in the Real Deal magazine that 55% had.
Buyers of units in Trump SoHo sued Trump, arguing that they had been defrauded by inflated claims of sales. The Manhattan district attorney’s office then began investigating whether the allegations could also constitute a crime, issuing subpoenas and carrying out interviews.