New York Attorney General sues Trump and his company

New York Attorney General Letitia James sued former President Donald Trump and his company on Wednesday, accusing them of fraud for inflating billions of dollars in the net value of assets such as golf courses, hotels and residences in the city. Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago.

James described the ruse as “the art of stealing,” a reference to Trump’s book “The Art of Dealing.”

The lawsuit that Democrat James filed in state court in New York is the culmination of her three-year investigation into Trump and the Trump Organization. Also named in the lawsuit are Trump’s three eldest children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric — along with two company executives: Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney.

The 222-page lawsuit shines a spotlight on the image of wealth and opulence that Trump has long projected in his career, first as a real estate entrepreneur, then as the star of reality shows “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice.” and later as president.

The document details dozens of examples of alleged fraud, many of which involve assertions in annual financial statements that Trump would give to banks, business associates and financial magazines as evidence of his fortune when seeking loans and deals.

For example, according to the lawsuit, Trump claimed his Trump Tower residence — a three-level penthouse with gold-plated fixtures — was nearly three times its actual size and valued the property at $327 million. Never has an apartment in New York City sold in such numbers, James said.

Trump applied confusing numbers to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, according to the lawsuit, valuing the private club and residence at an exorbitant $739 million, which was more than 10 times more than a reasonable appraisal. . Trump’s figure was based on the idea that the property could be converted for residential use, but provisions in the deed prohibit it.

“This investigation revealed that Donald Trump for years engaged in illegal conduct to inflate the net value of his assets, in order to deceive banks and the people of the great state of New York,” James said at a press conference. “Stating that you have money that you don’t have is not the art of negotiating, but the art of stealing,” added the official.

James said his investigation uncovered potential criminal offenses including falsifying company records, disseminating false financial statements, insurance fraud, conspiracy and bank fraud. He added that his office decided to turn the findings over to federal prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service.

James wants Trump and the other defendants to pay at least $250 million, an amount he says was the approximate value of the profits made through fraudulent practices.

James, who is a Democrat, announced the details of the lawsuit at a news conference on Wednesday. The prosecutor said her office filed the case — which is civil, not criminal — after rejecting settlement proposals from attorneys for the defendants.

The alleged scheme was intended to enhance Trump’s image as a billionaire and the value of his properties to achieve business advantages, such as obtaining loans on favorable terms, while at other times diminishing the value of his assets for tax purposes, the office said. leave me alone.

In a statement posted on his Truth Social website, Trump described the lawsuit as “another witch hunt by a racist attorney general,” and James, who is black, as “a fraud who campaigned on the promise to ‘catch to Trump.’”

Later, in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, Trump said his company’s financial statements warned banks not to trust the information provided.

“We have a disclaimer up front,” he said, warning banks: “’You’re at your own risk’… ‘Be careful because there could be inaccuracies. There could be big mistakes’… ‘Get your own people, Use your own appraisers. Use your own lawyers. Don’t trust us.’”

Trump’s attorney Alina Habba said the lawsuit “does not focus on the facts or the law, rather it focuses only on advancing the attorney general’s political agenda,” and accused James of abusing his authority “by snooping around.” transactions in which there was no irregularity.

Habba said the allegations in the lawsuit are “meritless.”

James intends to separate the Trumps from the companies involved in the alleged fraud and that an independent supervisor be appointed to monitor for no less than five years that the Trump Organization complies with its financial statements, valuations and information delivered to creditors, insurers and tax authorities. .

He also wants to replace the current holders of the Trump trust, which controls his business interests, with an independent trustee; bar Trump and the Trump Organization from acquiring commercial real estate for five years; prohibit them from obtaining loans from banks in New York for five years, and permanently prohibit Trump or his three eldest children from serving as directors or deputy directors of any company registered or licensed in New York state.

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