NY attorney general describes possible fraud at Trump family business

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New York Attorney General Letitia James said that former U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s family business misrepresented the value of its assets to obtain loans and other financial benefits, citing “significant” new evidence of fraudulent or misleading practices.

James made the accusations in a filing to compel Trump and his adult children Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump to testify in her civil probe into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings.

She said in a statement that evidence suggested that Donald Trump and the Trump Organization had misstated the value of six properties, including one on Wall Street and golf clubs in Scotland and Westchester County outside New York City.

Representatives for Donald Trump did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment outside business hours.

James’ filing highlighted details of what she called “material” misrepresentations on financial statements.

The claims reflect an escalation into James’ civil probe into whether the Trump Organization fraudulently inflated the values of its real estate holdings to obtain bank loans and reduced their values to lower its tax bills.

“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.

She later tweeted that “Donald Trump, Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump have all been closely involved in the transactions in question.”

Donald Trump and his children have not been accused of criminal wrongdoing, and James cannot file criminal charges because her probe is civil.

Trump, a Republican, has called the probe a politically motivated “witch hunt.” James is a Democrat.

Earlier this month, lawyers for the Trump family asked a judge to block James from obtaining their testimony, after the attorney general issued subpoenas to Trump and his two children.

Donald Trump turned over the Trump Organization to his adult sons and the company’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg when he became president in 2017. Ivanka Trump had also worked for the Trump Organization before serving in the White House as a senior adviser.

James’ probe has focused on properties including the Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County, New York, a downtown Manhattan office building, the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.

It is related to but separate from a criminal probe by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which James joined last May, into the Trump Organization’s business practices.

Weisselberg and the company pleaded not guilty in that probe in July to charges they ran what a prosecutor called a “sweeping and audacious” tax fraud in which company executives were awarded “off-the-books” benefits for over 15 years.

Last month, Trump sued James in a federal court in Albany, the state capital, to halt her civil probe, accusing her of trying to “harass, intimidate, and retaliate against a private citizen who she views as a political opponent.”

(Reporting by Shivam Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Gerry Doyle, Noeleen Walder and Mark Porter)

Photo – (L-R) Former US President Donald Trump, and his daughter Ivanka Trump. EPA-EFE/GIAN EHRENZELLER

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