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New York AG says evidence of fraud at Trump family business

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The New York attorney general is seeking to question former president Donald Trump (C), daughter Ivanka Trump and son Donald Trump, Jr./AFP
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Jan 20, 2022 - 10:25 AM

NEW YORK — New York Attorney General Letitia James said her investigation into the Trump family’s business dealings had uncovered evidence suggesting the fraudulent valuing of multiple assets and misrepresentation of those values for economic benefit.

In a court filing late Tuesday, James said as the beneficial owner of the Trump Organization, former president Donald Trump “had ultimate authority over a wide swath of conduct by the Trump Organization involving misstatements to counterparties, including financial institutions, and the Internal Revenue Service.”

James is seeking to question Trump and his two eldest children, Donald Trump, Jr, and Ivanka Trump, as part of her years-long civil probe.

In her filing Tuesday, the attorney general said the trio should be compelled to testify.

“Until January 2017, Ms. Trump was a primary contact for the Trump Organization’s largest lender, Deutsche Bank. In connection with this work, Ms. Trump caused misleading financial statements to be submitted to Deutsche Bank and the federal government,” the court document says.

It added that “Since 2017, Donald Trump, Jr. has had authority over numerous financial statements containing misleading asset valuations.”

The court filing gave a detailed accounting of the alleged fraudulent valuations and misrepresentations of those values to financial institutions.

They included claiming Trump’s penthouse in Manhattan’s Trump Tower was three times bigger than it actually was, overestimating its value by $200 million.

Several legal probes 

The Trumps have claimed it is a politically motivated investigation and urged the court to quash subpoenas against the three.

“Thus far in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit,” James said in a statement late Tuesday after her court filing to oppose that motion.

“The Trumps must comply with our lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony because no one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them. We will not be deterred in our efforts to continue this investigation and ensure that no one is above the law.”

She launched her investigation in March 2019 and suspects that the Trump Organization fraudulently overstated the value of certain properties when seeking bank loans, and later reported much smaller values when declaring assets so it could pay less tax.

Trump’s son Eric, who is executive vice president of the Trump Organization, was interviewed by James’s office on the issue in October 2020.

The former president is facing pressure from several legal probes.

In Washington he is trying to prevent a congressional probe into the January 6 attack by his supporters on the US Capitol from accessing White House records related to that day.

The Trump Organization is also under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney for possible financial crimes and insurance fraud.

In July last year, the Trump Organization and its long-serving finance chief, Allen Weisselberg pleaded not guilty in a New York court to 15 felony fraud and tax evasion charges.

His trial is due to begin in the middle of this year.

Trump was also questioned for more than four hours in October as part of a lawsuit by a group of protestors who allege that his security guards assaulted them six years ago.

He is also battling to prevent years of his tax returns from being released to prosecutors.

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