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New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Trump PAC, org. paid Stern professor almost $900,000 to testify at trial

The professor was paid nearly $900,000 to testify in a $250 million accounting fraud case against former President Donald Trump, claiming there is “no evidence” to support the lawsuit.
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
File Photo: Donald Trump addresses the press outside of the courtroom during his New York civil fraud case in New York City on Oct. 17, 2023. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

A professor at the Stern School of Business was paid almost $900,000 to testify at a New York civil trial for former president Donald Trump last week, saying there was “no evidence whatsoever” of fraud in his accounting. The professor, Eli Bartov, said the payment had come from the Trump Organization and Trump’s political action committee, Save America.

The $250 million lawsuit was filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, and claims the Trump Organization inflated its assets by $3.6 billion in order to improve potential loan and business offers. Trump’s accounting practices allegedly include overvaluing several of his properties, including Mar-a-Lago and Trump Park Avenue, and overrepresenting the size of his Manhattan penthouse to raise the value from $80 million to $180 million. 

In the testimony, Bartov said James’s case lacked merit on the basis of generally accepted accounting principles — the standard accounting guidelines for U.S. companies — claiming no provisions were violated. He acknowledged discrepancies, but argued that they resulted from human error rather than attempted fraud, adding that this type of miscalculation is “inevitable” in accounting.

“My analysis shows the statements of financial conditions for all the years were not materially misstated,” Bartov said in the testimony. “There is no evidence here of concealment.” 

Bartov said that defining monetary value, particularly of real estate, is a subjective process. He praised Trump’s financial documents for their “awesome amount of information” and concluded that they should have been more than enough for Deutsche Bank, which was Trump’s largest single lender from 2011-21, to accurately assess his assets. 

“I’ve never seen a statement that provided so much detail, and is so transparent, as this statement,” Bartov said. “There is no question that the brand value of Mr. Trump, President Trump, is worth billions.” 

Bartov was reportedly paid more than any other of Trump’s expert witnesses, making $1,350 an hour for 650 hours of work — totaling $877,550. The payment was split between the Trump Organization and the Save America PAC, the latter having spent more than $20 million in legal fees in the first six months of the year. 

Bartov has been an accounting professor at Stern for over three decades and served as the Accounting Doctoral Program coordinator from 2001 to 2010. He currently teaches MBA and Ph.D. courses in financial statement analysis, financial accounting and reporting, empirical research in financial accounting, and international accounting and financial statement analysis. His research focuses on generally accepted accounting principles, financial reporting, equity valuation and executive compensation, and he also has experience as a consultant and expert witness in similar fraud cases.

The case, initially filed in August 2020, has seen extensive delays, with Trump persistently referring to it as a “witch hunt.” A month later, Justice Arthur F. Engoron — who is hearing the case — held Trump, his sons and other Trump Organization officials liable for civil fraud. The trial resumed for 11 weeks, with the testimony period ending on Dec. 13. Engoron’s verdict is expected in late January at the earliest. 

Bartov and the university did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

Contact Dharma Niles at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Dharma Niles
Dharma Niles, Deputy News Editor
Dharma Niles is a first-year student currently studying journalism and politics at CAS, and has yet to choose between the six different minors she'd also like to pursue. You can generally find her playing NYT games, skittering around the city with a Celsius in hand or on Instagram @dharmaniles.
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
Jason Alpert-Wisnia, Editor-at-Large
Jason Alpert-Wisnia is a junior majoring in Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts, primarily focused on photojournalism and documentary photography. His photography ranges from coverage of professional sports, to political protests and music festivals. When he is not pounding the pavement with a camera in his hands looking for the next story, you are likely to find Jason in a used bookstore looking for rare finds or in the park reading. You can find him on Instagram @jasonalpertwisnia and contact him at [email protected].

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  • R

    Ruth TaberDec 20, 2023 at 3:00 pm

    Liked by his students, bunch of degrees, long teaching career doesn’t guarantee honesty.
    Ashamed of my 1948 NYU degree….