A commercial real estate firm that has appraised several Trump Organization properties is being scorned by a state judge for failing to turn over documents in a civil investigation led by the New York Attorney General.
Beginning Thursday, Cushman & Wakefield will be fined $10,000 a day until it produces documents that are more than a week overdue to New York Attorney General Letitia James, according to a court order filed Tuesday.
James’ office has subpoenaed the documents as it considers filing a civil lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and his company. In a previous filing, James’ office said it had “uncovered substantial evidence supporting numerous misstatements in Mr. Trump’s financial statements provided to banks, insurers and the Internal Revenue Service.”
Trump and his company have denied any wrongdoing, with the former president once calling the investigation “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time.”
The contempt order is the latest development in a protracted legal battle that began when James’ office served subpoenas against Cushman & Wakefield in September and again in February.
The real estate firm had “partially responded” to the subpoenas in March before refusing to provide the remaining documents, state judge Arthur Engoron said in Tuesday’s contempt order.
While acknowledging the “enormous number of documents” being requested in the investigation, Engoron said, “Cushman & Wakefield has only itself to blame if it chose to be lax about the looming deadlines.”
Last week, two days after a deadline to comply with subpoenas following previous delays, Cushman & Wakefield filed a request for an extension. Engoron rejected the request on Tuesday.
“First of all, this court is in disbelief as to why Cushman & Wakefield would wait until two days after the court-ordered time limit to begin the process of seeking a further extension,” Engoron wrote.
James said in a statement Wednesday that the real estate company’s work for the former president and his company “is clearly relevant to our investigation, and we are pleased that the court has recognized this and taken action to compel Cushman to comply with our subpoenas.” to comply “
A spokesman for the real estate company said in a statement that the judge’s ruling “shows a lack of understanding for the extreme lengths Cushman has gone to to comply with the court’s order. We have expended great expense and effort to quickly identify, collect, review and produce the vast body of documents requested by the OAG and we have now produced over hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and over 650 expert opinions since the last subpoena was issued in February 2022.”
“This lengthy process began well before the court denied Cushman’s motion for a stay in June,” the spokesman continued. “Cushman denies any suggestion that the company failed to act with care and good faith in following the court’s order, and we will be appealing that decision.”
In a letter to Engoron on Tuesday, lawyers for the real estate company said it had “produced more than 850,000 pages of materials” in response to James’ subpoena and that a multimillion-page “document dump” would delay their investigation.
In a related ruling, Engoron said last week Trump was no longer in contempt of court, about two months after he found Trump in contempt for a slow response to a civil subpoena issued by James’ office. Trump paid $110,000 in fines over the contempt order last month.