New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday filed a $250 million lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, his children Eric, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., and the Trump Organization – alleging “shocking” fraud in the family real estate business.
The 220-page civil lawsuit filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court accuses the former president and his Trump organization of fraudulently inflating the value of their prized possessions — including their homes and golf courses — in order to obtain favorable loans and tax benefits. has gone.
It seeks to take away Trump’s ability to run a business in the Empire State and ban him and his company from buying commercial real estate for several years.
“Donald Trump falsely amplified his wealth of billions of dollars to enrich himself unjustly and betray the system, thereby defrauding us all,” James, a Democrat, told a news conference.
Referring to Trump’s 1987 book, he said, “To claim you have money that you don’t have is not the art of bargaining, it is the art of stealing.”
James said that after a three-year investigation, his office uncovered potential criminal breaches, including business records, insurance fraud, issuing false financial statements, conspiracy and bank fraud.
While she cannot bring criminal charges against Trump because her investigation was a civil one, James said her office is referring the case to the Internal Revenue Service and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
The suit, which also names ex-Trump Organization CFO Alan Weiselberg, accuses defendants of “engaging in multiple acts of fraud and misrepresentation in the preparation of annual statements of Mr. Trump’s financial position … at least in 2011.” to 2021.”
Specifically, James alleges that Trump and co-defendants used a number of tricks — including at least 200 false or misleading statements to amplify assets — to carry out a conspiracy that cost him at least $250. Million purged.
James said these misrepresentations – which falsely show that Trump earned billions more than he actually did – were built on “statements of financial position” that provided loan applications and insurance to financial institutions such as Cushman & Wakefield, Deutsche Bank and the Mazar Group. were given for. purpose.
As a result, the defendants received favorable credit and insurance terms, including higher limits and lower premiums, the suit claimed.
“Each statement was personally corroborated to be accurate by Mr. Trump or one of his trustees,” James alleged.
James claimed that Trump would lie about the amount of cash he had and would increase his real estate assets from one year to the next, using different methods to value the same property.
The AG claimed that it would increase property prices taking into account the potential increase in value from the Trump brand, and would also ignore legal restrictions on development rights.
James claimed that Trump would lie about the amount of cash he had, overestimate his real estate assets and ignore legal restrictions on development rights.
For example, Trump valued his 40 Wall Street assets at $530 million in 2013, when it was actually valued at $220 million in 2012, court papers claim.
He also exaggerated the square footage of his triplex in Trump Tower, claiming it was 30,000 square feet, when it was actually just under 11,000 square feet, the suit alleges. This exaggeration meant the property was valued at $327 million—a price that no apartment in New York has ever sold for, James said.
Trump claimed that the 12 rent-controlled apartments on Trump Park Avenue were valued at $50 million in total when they were valued by a third-party appraiser totaling $750,000, the suit says.
Meanwhile, James also alleged that the Trump Organization was able to reduce its federal tax obligations through the alleged plan.
For example, the suit alleges that Eric Trump led the company’s efforts to develop the Seven Springs estate in Westchester County since 2011—and worked with an outside tax council to fund a conservation facility donation to the federal government. tax deduction can be obtained.
Asked about facilitated donations related to Seven Springs, Eric invoked the Fifth Amendment, which “ultimately, and fraudulently, reduced Mr. Trump’s tax liability by more than $3.5 million.”
“The examples I’ve put together barely scratch the surface of misconduct,” James said.
In addition to banning Trump and company from making any real estate deals and obtaining loans in New York for five years, James permanently barred former presidents, Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric from serving as any directors. wants to stop. local company.
AG also wants the defendants to reduce any financial gain from the alleged fraudulent behavior of at least $250 million.
She is further seeking to ban Weiselberg and Trump Organization comptroller Jeffrey McConkey from having financial control over any company in New York. And James wants an independent monitor set up to oversee compliance for the next five years, as well as to submit audited annual financial statements of Trump’s net worth to the Trump Organization that would be sent to any company that Previously used to get their financial statements. Event.
All these restrictions that Jacob wants to impose must first be approved by a judge.
In a statement, Trump attorney Alina Habba told The Post that the lawsuit “focused neither on the facts nor the law — rather, it focused solely on advancing the attorney general’s political agenda.”
“It is absolutely clear that the Attorney General’s office has exceeded its statutory authority by manipulating transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has occurred,” she said. “We are confident that our judicial system will not stand up to this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against every single baseless claim by the Attorney General.”
Meanwhile, Trump accused James of a politically motivated “witch hunt” in a statement on the Truth social platform.
His former attorney general, Bill Barr, also dismissed the suit as a “political hit job”.
“I think it would make people sympathetic to Trump that it’s another example of people piling on ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’ because of, you know, a strong desire to punish them,” He told Fox News,
He said it doesn’t appear that James has the evidence to make a criminal case, “so she’s setting up a lower bar and bringing this civil case.”
“I don’t think it’s going to go any further,” Barr said.
James opened an investigation into the company in 2019 after Trump’s one-time personal attorney Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump exaggerated company assets for tax, insurance and loan purposes.
The AG then filed suit in 2020, claiming that the Trump Organization and Eric Trump were obstructing its investigation.
Trump and two of his three eldest children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., have since been linked in the case, in which the office sought to enforce summons for records and deposits from family members and company employees. All three of his children have been executives in the company.
Trump, Ivanka, and Don Jr. have battled to appear for the statements, but he ultimately lost the court battle, and Trump testified last month in the AG’s statement, where he asked questions citing his Fifth Amendment rights. refused to answer.
The lawsuit on Wednesday came after the AG rejected at least one motion by Trump’s camp to settle the matter.
“We rejected the settlement offers they submitted and our doors are always open,” James told reporters.
A spokeswoman for the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York said Wednesday that she was aware of James’ referral but declined to comment further.
Trump is facing further legal troubles after the Aug. 8 raid on the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida as the FBI investigates whether Trump illegally stored classified documents there. He said the documents were declassified before they were brought there.
Trump’s lawyers were in Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday as Judge Raymond Dear, court-appointed special master, works to determine which of the 11,000 documents seized may fall under attorney-client or executive privileges. Is.
The Trump Organization is set to face trial on tax fraud charges next month, where Weiselberg was slated to testify against the company last month as part of a plea deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
In the wake of James’ trial, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg said in a statement: “Our criminal investigation concerning former President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization and his leadership is active and ongoing.”
The company is accused of helping top executives collect income taxes by reducing their compensation to the government for 15 years. Trump is not personally charged in this case.
If convicted, the company could face financial penalties and be forced to reform business practices.
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Rosner and Ben Furherd