A majority of the real estate properties sold by President Trump’s companies in the last year have been bought by shell corporations, which allow people to buy property and keep their identities secret, according to an explosive new report by USA Today.
USA Today’s six-month investigation revealed that over the last 12 months, about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies. In the two years before that, only 4% of the buyers used shell companies.
Since Election Day, Trump’s businesses have sold 28 of those U.S. properties for $33 million including luxury condos and penthouses in Las Vegas and New York and oceanfront lots near Los Angeles, reports the paper.
USA Today reports:
Profits from sales of those properties flow through a trust run by Trump’s sons. The president is the sole beneficiary of the trust and can withdraw cash anytime.
The increasing share of opaque buyers comes at a time when federal investigators, members of Congress and ethics watchdogs are asking questions about Trump’s sales and customers in the U.S. and around the world. Some Congressional Democrats have been asking for more detail about buyers of Trump’s domestic real estate since USA TODAY’s initial report.
Their concern is that the secretive sales create an extraordinary and unprecedented potential for people, corporations or foreign interests to try to influence a President. Anyone who wanted to court favor with the President could snap up multiple properties or purposefully overpay, without revealing their identity publicly.