N.Y. Seeks Trump Insider’s Records, in Apparent Bid to Gain Cooperation

State prosecutors in Manhattan investigating former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization have subpoenaed the personal bank records of the company’s chief financial officer and are questioning gifts he and his family received from Mr. Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

In recent weeks, the prosecutors have trained their focus on the executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, in what appears to be a determined effort to gain his cooperation. Mr. Weisselberg, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, has overseen the Trump Organization’s finances for decades and may hold the key to any possible criminal case in New York against the former president and his family business.

Prosecutors working for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., are examining, among other things, whether Mr. Trump and the company falsely manipulated property values to obtain loans and tax benefits.

It is unclear whether Mr. Weisselberg would cooperate with the investigation and neither his lawyer, Mary E. Mulligan, nor Mr. Vance’s office would comment. But if a review of his personal finances were to uncover possible wrongdoing, prosecutors could then use that information to press Mr. Weisselberg to guide them through the inner workings of the company. The 73-year-old accountant began his career working for Mr. Trump’s father.

ruling from the United States Supreme Court.

he was not seeking re-election.

Seven Springs estate in Westchester County. In addition to possible tax- and bank-related fraud, the prosecutors are examining the Trump Organization’s statements to insurance companies about the value of various assets.

Prosecutors have subpoenaed records from a firm hired by Deutsche Bank, one of the former president’s main lenders, to assess the value of three Trump hotels with Deutsche Bank loans, people with knowledge of the matter said. The firm reviewed the operations of restaurants, bars and gift shops at the hotels, one of the people said.

Last year, the prosecutors subpoenaed Deutsche Bank itself and Mr. Trump’s other main lender, Ladder Capital, which sold its Trump Organization loans years ago. Both banks are cooperating with the prosecutors.

It is unclear whether the prosecutors will ultimately file any charges. But if a case were built against the Trump Organization based on the loan documents, the company’s lawyers could argue that Deutsche Bank and Ladder Capital are sophisticated financial institutions that conducted their own analysis of Mr. Trump’s properties without relying on the company’s internal assessments. The lawyers could also emphasize that providing different valuations for a property depending on the situation — for example, on a loan application or in appealing local property taxes — is common and appropriate in New York’s real estate industry, in part because there are varying methods for calculating property values.

Outside accountants also vet the information provided to local tax authorities, potentially reducing the likelihood of fraud. Mr. Trump has argued that his tax returns “were done by among the biggest and most prestigious law and accounting firms in the U.S.”

In addition to the fraud investigation, Mr. Vance’s office continues to focus on its original target: the Trump Organization’s role in paying hush money during the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, paid $130,000 to buy the silence of one of the women, Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress who performed as Stormy Daniels. The Trump Organization later reimbursed Mr. Cohen, and Mr. Vance’s office has scrutinized whether the company properly accounted for the $130,000 payment.

Mr. Cohen, who in 2018 pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance charges for his role in the hush-money scheme, has long implicated Mr. Weisselberg, alleging that he helped devise a strategy to mask the reimbursements. The federal prosecutors who charged Mr. Cohen did not accuse Mr. Weisselberg of wrongdoing.

Mr. Cohen is now cooperating with Mr. Vance’s investigation and has met with prosecutors several times, including to review some of Mr. Trump’s financial documents. Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Mr. Cohen, declined to comment.

The prosecutors have also questioned Mr. Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law, Jennifer Weisselberg, she has said. Ms. Weisselberg has been enmeshed in a bitter divorce with Mr. Weisselberg’s son, Barry, who manages the Trump Wollman Rink in Central Park.

Ms. Weisselberg said in an interview that prosecutors have asked her about a number of gifts that Mr. Trump and his company gave the Weisselberg family over the years. These include an apartment on Central Park South for Ms. Weisselberg and her former husband, cars leased for several family members and private school tuition.

The scrutiny of the gifts appears to be part of an effort to paint a picture of Mr. Weisselberg’s financial life, as is common when prosecutors seek cooperation from a potential witness. It is unclear whether prosecutors suspect any wrongdoing related to the gifts.

James B. Stewart and Steve Eder contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

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Lending Apps in India Shame Borrowers Who Can’t Pay Money Back

HYDERABAD, India — The harassing calls began soon after sunrise. Kiran Kumar remained in bed and, for hours, thought about how he was going to end his hostage of a life.

The cement salesman had initially borrowed about $40 from a lender through an online app to supplement his $200-a-month salary. But he couldn’t pay the mounting fees and interest, so he borrowed from others. By that morning, Mr. Kumar owed roughly $4,000.

Even worse, the lenders had the phone numbers of those closest to him, and were threatening to make his problems public.

“If I am labeled a fraud in front of everyone, my self-respect is gone, my honor is gone,” Mr. Kumar, 28, said in an interview. “What is left?”

devastated by the impact of the coronavirus on the Indian economy.

About 100 loan apps have been removed from the Google platform, according to the Indian government. A Google spokesperson said it reviewed hundreds of loan apps and removed those that violated its terms.

The investigations are raising alarms in India over the vulnerability of a population of 1.3 billion who are still getting accustomed to digital payments. Online transactions in India will reach more than $3 trillion by 2025, according to PwC, the consulting firm. Further fraud findings could spur the government, which has already limited the personal data that online companies can use, to take a tighter grip on the industry.

The apps also speak to the global nature of online fraud. Many of the companies use techniques that flourished in China two years ago before the authorities there shut them down, and that have since reappeared elsewhere.

The loan apps emerged at a desperate time. The government enacted a tough, two-month lockdown a year ago to contain the virus, plunging India into a deep recession. Millions were thrown out of work. Traditional forms of lending, like banks and microlenders, were temporarily closed.

With names like Money Now, First Cash, Super Cash and Cool Cash — according to police documents — the apps came and went on Google’s app store in India, some reappearing with a slight change of identity. Most were built with off-the-shelf software that made their creation as easy as starting a blog, said Srikanth Lakshmanan, one of the coordinators of Cashless Consumers, a collective of technology volunteers who have been studying the apps.

Aasra.info for more resources.

Cao Li contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

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Education Department scraps a Trump-era policy that limited debt relief for defrauded students.

Tens of thousands of borrowers who attended for-profit schools like Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute that defrauded students will have their student loan debts eliminated after the Education Department rescinded some changes made during the Trump administration that gutted a relief program.

“Borrowers deserve a simplified and fair path to relief when they have been harmed by their institution’s misconduct,” said Miguel Cardona, the education secretary. “We will grant them a fresh start from their debt.”

The change will eliminate around $1 billion in student loan debt owed by around 72,000 borrowers, the department said. Most of them attended ITT and Corinthian, institutions that abruptly shut down years ago.

The relief program, known as borrower defense, allows those who can demonstrate that they were substantially misled by their school to have their federal student loans forgiven. Once little-used, the system was flooded with claims during the Obama administration after a series of large for-profit chains collapsed following a government crackdown on schools that saddled their students with high debts for a low-quality education.

imposed a complicated new methodology that led to only partial relief for many successful applicants. Some whose claims were approved were told they would get $0 in relief.

Mr. Cardona said the department will abandon Ms. DeVos’s methodology and retroactively give those with approved claims a full discharge.

“I’m in a state of shock right now,” said Albert Paul Cruz, who earned an associate degree in computer networking systems in 2010 but never worked in that field. Last year, he received a letter from the Education Department telling him that his borrower defense claim had been approved but that none of his debts would be eliminated.

Mr. Cruz has around $60,000 in student loan debt; his late and missed payments on it have harmed his credit score and made it challenging to obtain a car loan. The debt was “nerve wracking” and kept him up at night — and the prospect of finally being free from it was amazing, he said.

“If this does wipe all the negatives off my profile, I just may finally get a piece of the American dream,” Mr. Cruz said.

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California Sues Nursing Home Chain, Saying It Manipulated Ratings System

The result, prosecutors said, was that Brookdale “has been awarded higher star ratings than it deserved.” They added, “The chain’s manipulation has allowed Brookdale to attract prospective patients and their families to its facilities by misleading them about its quality of care.”

Prosecutors also accused Brookdale of illegally evicting or transferring residents so that the chain could “fill its beds with residents who will bring in more money.” In one instance highlighted in the suit, prosecutors said Brookdale discharged a 78-year-old resident who suffered from heart and kidney disease without removing his catheter.

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties and an injunction to prevent future unlawful conduct. Under California law, civil penalties are up to $2,500 per violation. In this case, where the violations are committed against seniors or people with disabilities, the law provides for an additional penalty of up to $2,500 per violation.

A Brookdale spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Times previously reported that a Brookdale facility in Lexington, Ky., told Medicare in 2017 that every resident got an average of 75 minutes of care each day. In reality, nurses at the Brookdale Richmond Place facility spent an average of less than 30 minutes a day with patients. Brookdale received five stars for staffing. Absent the inflated numbers, it probably would have received only one or two stars.

A former Brookdale nursing assistant said in a deposition last year that her supervisors had told her to falsify residents’ medical records to make it look as if they received more care than they did.

Heather Hunter, a spokeswoman for Brookdale, told The Times, “We have detailed policies in place to ensure compliance with C.M.S. reporting rules, and we are not aware of any instance where inaccurate or false information was submitted by any of our communities outside of the confines of the C.M.S. rules.”

President Biden nominated Mr. Becerra, whose office brought the case against Brookdale, for secretary of health and human services, which oversees C.M.S. The Senate has not yet voted on the nomination.

Robert Gebeloff contributed reporting.

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