New York AG Files Lawsuit Against Trump, His Children
15:37 GMT 21.09.2022 (Updated: 16:39 GMT 21.09.2022)
For over three years, New York Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating whether Donald Trump fradulently adjusted the value of his assets to secure loans or tax breaks. The former US president has denied any wrongdoing, describing the probe as a witch hunt.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a civil lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Manhattan against ex-POTUS Donald Trump and three of his adult children, Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka.
Aside from the former president and his children, the suit also names the Trump Organization and two of its executives, Allan Weisselberg and Jeff McConney.
In the lawsuit, the AG alleges that the Trump family enriched themselves through "numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentations" for 20 years. The lawsuit also accuses the former First Family of "grossly" inflating Trump's net worth by billions of dollars, as well as cheating lenders with allegedly false or misleading financial statements.
"Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself, and cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us," James said at a news conference on Wednesday.
The lawsuit seeks a $250 million judgment and a ban on any member of the Trump family from leading a company in the state of New York.
The suit claims that the Trumps resorted to "persistent and repeated business fraud" to convince banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than deserved.
"Mr. Trump made known through Mr. Weisselberg that he wanted his net worth on the Statements to increase -- a desire Mr. Weisselberg and others carried out year after year in their fraudulent preparation of the Statements. The scheme to inflate Mr. Trump's net worth also remained consistent year after year," the lawsuit said.
James seeks an independent monitor appointed for no less than five years to oversee the Trump Organization's compliance, financial reporting, valuations and disclosures to lenders, insurers and tax authorities.
Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, said the lawsuit "is neither focused on the facts nor the law - rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General's political agenda."
"It is abundantly clear that the Attorney General's Office has exceeded its statutory authority by prying into transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place. We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the Attorney General's meritless claims."
Donald Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, calling James' three-year-long investigation a "witch hunt." It was reported that the AG had rejected a settlement offer from the company to resolve the matter last month. Trump's eldest son Donald Jr. and daughter Ivanka — both of whom have served as Trump Organization executive vice presidents — were deposed under oath as part of James' civil probe into the 45th US president’s business and finances in August 2022.
During a deposition last month, the ex-POTUS repeatedly pleaded the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to refuse to answer questions. Eric Trump, the brother of Ivanka and Don Jr and also a vice president for the Trump Organization, invoked his Fifth Amendment right more than 500 times when he sat for a deposition in October 2020.
A privilege set out in the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution gives an individual the right to refuse to answer any questions or make any statements that could be used in a criminal proceeding to help establish that the person committed a crime.
In early July 2021, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office charged Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg with second-degree grand larceny, and the company itself with "the crime of scheme to defraud in the first degree." The indictment indicated the first criminal charges against the former US president's company since prosecutors started investigating it more than three years ago.
James' office opened a civil investigation into the Trump Organization in March 2019, looking into whether the company improperly inflated the value of its assets in financial records. The office also issued subpoenas to local governments seeking documents on several Trump Organization properties in Manhattan, upstate New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.