Trump likely used ‘fraudulent’ asset valuations, NY AG says

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(Bloomberg) – The New York Attorney General has asked a judge to order Donald Trump and two of his adult children to testify under oath in the state’s civil investigation into the family’s real estate business , saying investigators had already uncovered a pattern of potential fraud.

Letitia James, the state’s top law enforcement official, filed a motion late Tuesday to compel the former president, along with Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to hand over documents and respond to questions. questions about a series of appraisals of key Manhattan properties. based in Trump.

The civil investigation has become one of the biggest legal threats to Trump as he eyes another run for the White House in 2024. The investigation has already helped lead to a separate criminal tax case against the Trump Organization. led by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and could trigger additional criminal charges or a civil suit by the state.

Among other things, Trump’s financial documents “misrepresented objective facts, such as the size of Mr. Trump’s Trump Tower penthouse” and “misclassified assets beyond the control of Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization as of ‘cash’, thereby exaggerating its liquidity,” James said. in a report.

Read more: Trump sues NY AG James to suspend investigation into his company

James, a Democrat and frequent Trump critic, was responding to a motion filed earlier this month by the Trumps seeking to quash state subpoenas on the grounds that the investigation would be politically motivated. A judge has already rejected this argument at least twice earlier in the investigation.

The Attorney General’s office “has developed significant additional evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset appraisals to obtain a multitude of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage and deductions. taxes,” according to the filing.

James noted in the filing that another family member, Eric Trump, had already been ordered last year to sit for a deposition after initially hesitating.

James said the investigation found that so-called financial disclosure statements that described Trump’s assessment process did so “in a manner that was often inaccurate or misleading with respect to supporting data and documentation” that the company provided to accountants.

“Subpoenas to current and former senior company officials — like those at issue here — are common in complex financial investigations and are amply warranted here,” James said in the filing.

Read more: Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. subpoenaed in Asset Probe

Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

James began the investigation in 2019 to determine whether Trump’s company had manipulated the value of key assets. Former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen sparked the investigation after handing Congress a treasure trove of Trump financial records and testified that his former boss ‘inflated his total assets when it served his purposes’ and “deflated his assets to reduce his property taxes”.

In July, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., in cooperation with James, charged the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, with a range of crimes associated with untaxed benefits that the executive had received, including the use of luxury goods. cars and apartments. Weisselberg and the company have denied any wrongdoing.

A primary focus of the James investigation was the Trump Organization’s valuation of Seven Springs, a 212-acre estate in Westchester County, New York. His office tried to determine whether the company provided an accurate valuation of the property when it served as the basis for approximately $21.1 million in tax deductions for the donation of a conservation easement for the year of tax 2015.

Trump’s 40 Wall Street skyscraper and Chicago hotel are among other properties being looked into as part of the attorney general’s investigation, which coincided with the Manhattan District Attorney’s extensive probe into possible fraud. banking, mortgage and tax.

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