The manipulation of values to evade taxes was central to one of the most important financial events in Donald Trump’s life. In an episode never before revealed, Mr. Trump and his siblings gained ownership of most of their father’s empire on Nov. 22, 1997, a year and a half before Fred Trump’s death. Critical to the complex transaction was the value put on the real estate. The lower its value, the lower the gift taxes. The Trumps dodged hundreds of millions in gift taxes by submitting tax returns that grossly undervalued the properties, claiming they were worth just $41.4 million.
The same set of buildings would be sold off over the next decade for more than 16 times that amount.
The most overt fraud was All County Building Supply & Maintenance, a company formed by the Trump family in 1992. All County’s ostensible purpose was to be the purchasing agent for Fred Trump’s buildings, buying everything from boilers to cleaning supplies. It did no such thing, records and interviews show. Instead All County siphoned millions of dollars from Fred Trump’s empire by simply marking up purchases already made by his employees. Those millions, effectively untaxed gifts, then flowed to All County’s owners — Donald Trump, his siblings and a cousin. Fred Trump then used the padded All County receipts to justify bigger rent increases for thousands of tenants.
One-third of the $3 billion fine is a criminal penalty. The other $2 billion involves fines in connection with a civil settlement with the federal government and some states over the marketing of the blockbuster asthma drug Advair and other drugs.
Despite the large amount, $3 billion represents only a portion of what GlaxoSmithKline made on the drugs. Avandia, for example, racked up $10.4 billion in sales, Paxil brought in $11.6 billion, and Wellbutrin sales were $5.9 billion during the years covered by the settlement, according to IMS Health, a data group that consults for drugmakers.
“So a $3 billion settlement for half a dozen drugs over 10 years can be rationalized as the cost of doing business,” Mr. Burns said.
These kind of reckless criminal acts will continue as long as the corporations committing them stand to make way more than likely fines and the big bosses aren’t personally accountable.
Federal law enforcement officials announced what they called the largest healthcare fraud case in the nation’s history, indicting a Dallas-area physician for allegedly bilking Medicare for nearly $375 million in billings for nonexistent home healthcare services.