New York State Attorney General filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against former President Donald Trump, his three adult children, and the Trump Organization, claiming they were involved in an expansive decade-long scam that the former president was getting rich.
In a more than 200-page lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, said the fraud affected all aspects of Trump’s business, including his real estate and golf courses. According to the lawsuit, the Trump Organization defrauded lenders, insurers and tax authorities by overstating its property with misleading appraisals.
“These acts of fraud and misrepresentation were of a similar nature, were committed by senior executives at the Trump Organization as part of a joint venture for each annual Statement, and were approved at the highest levels of the Trump Organization – including by Mr. Trump himself,” the lawsuit said.
Trump and his children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, were named as defendants in the lawsuit. Allen Weisselbergformer chief financial officer of the Trump Organization and Jeff McConney, another longtime director of the company, are also mentioned.
James said she believed state and criminal laws may have been violated and referred the case to the US Attorney’s Office in the South New York District and the Internal Revenue Service.
James is trying to get $ 250 million in allegedly ill-gotten funds and permanently ban Trump and the children named in the lawsuit from serving as director of a New York-based company. He is also seeking to revoke the Trump Organization’s corporate certification, which, if awarded by a judge, could effectively force the company to cease operations in New York State.
Trump previously called James a “renegade prosecutor” who, he said, is leading “a vindictive and selfish fishing trip.” The Trump Organization called her earlier allegations “unfounded” and denied any wrongdoing.
Responding to Wednesday’s announcement, Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a statement to CNN: “Today’s report focuses neither on fact nor on law – rather, it focuses solely on implementing the Attorney General’s political agenda. It is absolutely clear that the Attorney General’s Office has exceeded its statutory powers by interfering in transactions in which there has been absolutely no wrongdoing. “
Weisselberg’s attorney Nicholas Gravante declined to comment.
The civil suit comes as Trump comes under increasing legal pressure as prosecutors take investigative steps that come closer and closer to his inner circle.
Trump is undergoing numerous criminal investigations by federal and state prosecutors into the accuracy of his company’s financial statements, interference in the 2020 presidential election, and handling of classified documents after he leaves office. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
AG says Trump lied more than 200 times about the value of his assets
James says the former president and his company made “dozens of fraudulent, false and misleading statements” in 10 years, according to the lawsuit clearly highlighting what has been called “200 false and misleading valuations” of Trump’s assets.
“The financial statements in question have been issued annually; each contained a significant number of fraudulent, false and misleading statements about a great many assets of the Trump Organization; and most played a role in certain transactions with financial institutions, ”the lawsuit claims.
According to James, Trump companies produced financial health statements each year that were passed on to banks and other financial institutions. The statements pointed to the financial health of the Trump companies, James said, and were reliable if the Trump Organization wanted to apply for loans.
Each statement has been personally certified as accurate by Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. or Weisselberg, James said at a news conference in New York on Wednesday.
Trump has “demonstrated” that he “wanted his net worth reflected in these statements to increase,” said James, “a desire that Mr. Weisselberg and others have pursued year after year by fraudulently preparing these statements.”
“When asked about these sworn meetings as part of our testimony, both men, Mr. Trump and Mr. Weisselberg, invoked their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused to answer,” added James.
“When asked under oath if he, Mr. Trump, continued to review and approve statements after he became president of the United States in 2017, Trump reiterated his Fifth Amendment privilege and declined to answer,” said James.
The announcement is the latest in a three-year investigation by James into the Trump Organization’s finances.
In January, James’s office said it had found “material” evidence showing that the Trump Organization had used false or misleading asset valuations in its financial statements to obtain loans, insurance and tax credits. The following month, longtime Trump accounting firm resigned.
James opened his investigation in 2019 after former Trump agent and personal attorney Michael Cohen testified before Congress claiming that Trump was over-valuing some assets to obtain loans and insurance, and underestimating others for benefits tax.
In addition to a new fraud lawsuit, the Trump Organization will start a trial next month on allegations that it has been involved in a 15-year tax fraud program and its longtime chief financial officer has agreed to testify against the company.
Weisselberg, who served as chief financial officer for the Trump Organization for decades, pleaded guilty in August for his role in a 15-year tax fraud, and as part of the deal, he agreed to testify against Trump’s real estate firm at a hearing.
In recent weeks, the Trump Organization has offered to dismiss the lawsuit even if they deny any wrongdoing, but James’ office has made it clear that he is not interested in the deal, people familiar with the case said.
The family was removed by the AG office
In April, after a protracted legal battle to enforce a subpoena for Trump and his adult children’s testimony, lawyers in James’ office said they were nearing the end of their investigation and needed Trump’s testimony before making a decision.
Last month, Trump did not answer questions and demanded the right to the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination when he was overthrown by the Attorney General’s office. Eric Trump, who runs the company on a daily basis, also cited his Fifth Amendment in 2020 in response to more than 500 questions.
Since Trump and Eric Trump have declined to answer the questions, if the case goes to trial, the jury may draw a “negative conclusion” against them for not answering the questions. This could result in a higher judgment against them or the company if held responsible.
Ivanka Trump and Trump Jr. answered questions during interviews that lasted over seven hours, CNN sources said.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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