Since President Trump won the Republican nomination, the majority of his companies’ real estate sales are to secretive shell companies that obscure the buyers’ identities, according to a report in USA Today.
The paper’s months-long investigation found that over the last 12 months, about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies – corporate entities that allow people to purchase property without revealing all of the owners’ names. That compares with about 4% of buyers in the two years before, the paper says.
USA Today says its journalists spent six months cataloging every condo, penthouse or other property that Trump and his companies own – and tracking the buyers behind every transaction. The paper’s investigation found Trump’s companies owned more than 430 individual properties worth well over $250 million.
Since Election Day, Trump’s businesses have sold 28 of those U.S. properties for $33 million, according to the report. The sales include luxury condos and penthouses in Las Vegas and New York and oceanfront lots near Los Angeles. The value of his companies’ inventory of available real estate remains above a quarter-billion dollars.
Profits from sales of those properties flow through a trust run by Trump’s sons, USA Today says. The president is the sole beneficiary of the trust and can withdraw cash any time, according to the report.
The increase in purchasers shielded by LLCs makes it far more difficult to track who is paying the President and his companies for properties ranging in price from $220,000 to $10 million – or more, the paper says.