Trump Tower in Manhattan Showed Higher Numbers to Lenders, Lower Ones to Tax Officials
Documents show the president Donald Trump’s company reported different numbers — higher ones to lenders, lower ones to tax officials — for Trump’s signature building. Last month, ProPublica revealed a similar pattern in two other Trump buildings.
Donald Trump’s business reported conflicting information about a key metric to New York City property tax officials and a lender who arranged financing for his signature building, Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to tax and loan documents obtained by ProPublica. The findings add a third major Trump property to two for which ProPublica revealed similar discrepancies last month.
In the latest case, the occupancy rate of the Trump Tower’s commercial space was listed, over three consecutive years, as 11, 16 and 16 percentage points higher in filings to a lender than in reports to city tax officials, records show.
For example, as of December 2011 and June 2012, respectively, Trump’s business told the lender that 99% and 98.7% of the tower’s commercial space was occupied, according to a prospectus for the loan. The figures were taken from “borrower financials,” the prospectus stated.
In tax filings, however, Trump’s business said the building’s occupancy was 83% in January 2012 and the same a year later. The 16 percentage point gap between the loan and tax filings is a “very significant difference,” said Susan Mancuso, an attorney who specializes in New York property tax.
A spokesperson for the Trump Organization said that “comparing the various reports is comparing apples to oranges” because reporting requirements differ.
Trump had much to gain by showing a high occupancy rate to lenders in 2012: He refinanced his share of Trump Tower that year and obtained a $100 million loan on favorable terms.
The vast majority of the gap between occupancy figures could be explained by diverging reports on how much space the Trump Organization used in Trump Tower. In loan documents, the company said it and its affiliates occupied 74,900 square feet in mid-2012, or 31% of the building. But tax reports from the January before and after listed the company and related parties as occupying 41,600 square feet—or about 18% of the tower.
“I cannot give you an explanation,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert, former accountant and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the tax and loan records for Trump Tower at ProPublica’s request.
More than a dozen tax and finance experts, presented with ProPublica’s earlier findings, also said they could not decipher a reason for the differences. As with Trump Tower, the discrepancies made the two properties—a skyscraper located at 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower near Columbus Circle—appear more profitable to the lender and less so to property tax officials.
Those discrepancies were “versions of fraud,” according to Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. The penalties for false filings can include fines or criminal charges.
The diverging numbers match a pattern described by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, in congressional testimony this year. Cohen said Trump at times inflated assets’ value in documents submitted to lenders in an effort to secure loans. In reports to tax officials, Cohen testified, Trump would lower the value to reduce what he owed. Continue Reading...
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    Alibaba Singles' Day sales jump 24.3% to $38.3 bn, sets new record
    Setting a new record, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has posted 24.3 per cent jump in total sales to $38.3 billion during the 11th edition of mega Singles' Day shopping event.
    The high-double digit growth in the Global Shopping Festival, branded as Double 11, holds high hopes for the Chinese economy which has slowed down in the wake of global trade war and sagging demand.
    The e-commerce behemoth had recorded total sales of $30.8 billion worth of merchandise during its one-day shopping event in 2018.
    In what suggests strong domestic consumption demand, Alibaba's sales across its various platforms crossed $10 billion within half an hour of the global shopping festival, 2019 kicking off on Sunday midnight.
    The shopping blitz saw 200,000 brands participating in the mega event which has over the years become an important date in the Chinese calendar.
    Chris Tung, CMO, Alibaba Group said that Double 11 Global Shopping Festival has transformed itself from a promotional event into a global phenomenon.
    He further said that Alibaba platforms support brands from all over the world including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to engage with their online customers.
    The mega shopping event now kicks off with pomp and grandeur. In the hours leading up to the shopping event on Sunday night, mega star Taylor Swift besides other domestic and international celebrities performed.
    The Singles' Day 24-hour sales which offer deals and bargains to millions of shoppers has surpassed the sales of all similar events such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday.
    On Sunday night, the sales on Alibaba platforms skyrocketed to $1 billion within two minutes. The number of orders created at peak of this year's Global Shopping Festival reached 544,000 orders in a second, 1,360 times that of the first edition of the festival in 2009.
    Among various factors which drove Alibaba group's Singles' Day sales were live streaming and fusion of online and offline retails. Live streaming by sellers has been engaging more customers with their fun-filled digital content.
    Alibaba has been bringing more and more brands and products from across the world to China to meet the diverse needs of the local shoppers.
    Companies from across the world are leveraging Alibaba platform to push their sales. The 11th edition of the Singles' Day festival saw higher sales from across categories such as beauty care, health supplements, electronics and apparels.
    A host of global brands such as Apple, Nike, Puma, Adidas and Panasonic participated in the Singles' Day sales.
    Fan Jiang, President of Taobao and Tmall said that fusion of online and offline had also contributed to the gross merchandise value (GMV) of sales.
    GMV is the aggregate value of all goods and services sold in a particular period.
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    McDonald's fires CEO over relationship with employee
    McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook has been fired for violating company policy by having a relationship with an unidentified employee, the company said.
    The US fast-food giant on Sunday said Steve Easterbrook "demonstrated poor judgment", since the company prohibits senior management from having relationships with other workers, whether they are under their direct supervision or not, Efe news reported.
    According to MarketWatch, Easterbrook sent an e-mail with a memo to employees acknowledging the relationship and said it was a mistake.
    "Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on," he said in the letter. 
    McDonald's said it voted to approve Easterbrook's departure last Friday after conducting a thorough analysis of the situation, while the compensation's payment details will be known on Monday after the submission of documents to federal authorities.
    After Easterbrook's dismissal, McDonald's board appointed Chris Kempczinski, who until now headed McDonald's USA and will take up his new position immediately as the new president and CEO.
    Kempczinski was one of the key figures in the development of McDonald's strategic plan and has overseen the most comprehensive transformation of the company in the US in the history of the fast-food chain, the company's chairman, Enrique Hernandez, said in a statement.
    "Steve brought me into McDonald's and he was a patient and helpful mentor," the new CEO said about Easterbrook.
    The 52-year-old former CEO had led McDonald's since March 2015. During his tenure, the company's shares nearly doubled in value but traffic to US restaurants has continued to stagnate. 
    McDonald's is reckoning with challenges reverberating throughout the food industry from meat producers to supermarkets as consumers switch to products that they view as more healthful and big companies sacrifice profit for technological upgrades and delivery.
    McDonald's has invested in updating its sandwiches and renovating its restaurants to keep up with those changes, but paid a price in profits. And US franchisees have balked at mandated investments in digital-ordering kiosks and new menu items like fresh-beef burgers. Franchisees started an independent association last year to push back against some of Easterbrook's changes.
    Easterbrook said earlier this year that he and other top executives, including Kempczinski, had been talking to franchisees in light of their concerns and had pushed back the timeline for owners making some capital investments as a result.
    "Wouldn't life be great if everyone was happy? Of course," Easterbrook told investors. "Am I fundamentally concerned that it will derail us from the shared vision that we have? No, not at all."
    Easterbrook also rolled back offerings including premium burgers and parts of an all-day breakfast menu after they slowed down restaurant operations. Wait-times at McDonald's drive-thrus have climbed in recent years as the company's menu became increasingly complex.
    Kempczinski, who helped implement many of the recent changes as head of US operations, said he would maintain Easterbrook's focus on technology as CEO and believes the company's investments will pay off.
    "There isn't going to be some radical, strategic shift. The plan is working," Kempczinski said in an interview on Sunday.
    Kempczinski said investors should feel confident in the succession and that he intends to listen to consumers. He also said he looked forward to continuing to discuss concerns with franchisees. "It's something we need to solve together," said Kempczinski, who will also join McDonald's board.
    McDonald's said Joe Erlinger, most recently president of international operated markets, is succeeding Kempczinski to oversee McDonald's roughly 14,000 domestic restaurants.
    McDonald's shares, up 9 percent this year, have trailed the broader S&P index tracking restaurants in that period, including other fast-food peers such as Wendy's and Restaurant Brands International.
    McDonald's faces more challenges at the US restaurants that drives its sales. Labor organisers and some lawmakers have called on the company to address workplace harassment issues and raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
    This year, McDonald's strengthened workplace training and protocol for reporting potential employee misconduct. Kempczinski said the company had a responsibility to address workplace well-being. The company said this year that it would stop lobbying against federal minimum wage increases, and that it recognizes the rights of its employees to join labor organisations.
    The company said details of Kempczinski's and Easterbrook's pay would be disclosed in a filing by Tuesday.
    Easterbrook, who is divorced, had a long career at McDonald's. Before becoming CEO, he worked as head of the company's United Kingdom business, which he helped return to growth by modernizing its restaurants, revamping the menu and portraying McDonald's as environmentally friendly e tactics he later employed at the company more broadly. 
    Easterbrook, who was born in Watford, England, was the second non-American to lead the company, after the late Charlie Bell of Australia.
    Easterbrook left McDonald's in 2011 to become CEO of Britain's PizzaExpress and then Japanese-style noodle bar chain Wagamama. Two years later he returned, eventually becoming McDonald's global chief brand officer.
    Within months of becoming CEO, he enacted several changes, including committing to switch to cage-free eggs, antibiotic-free chicken and hormone-free milk; raising workers' pay above minimum wage and giving different geographic markets more control over the menu.
    His pay as CEO rose with McDonald's share price, which closed Friday at $194. His compensation peaked in 2017 at a total of $21.8 million including $9.1 million in incentive-based pay. He received $15.9 million in total compensation last year. He also sits on the board of Walmart.
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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