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New York's AG Letitia James sues Trumps, accusing their businesses of fraud

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NEW YORK — New York Attorney General Letitia James said Wednesday that former President Donald Trump, his three grown children, and executives at his company are deceiving lenders, insurance brokers and tax officials into giving them better profits. to reduce interest rates on bank loans and insurance, and reduce tax liability.

A 222-page civil complaint has asked the New York Supreme Court to bar Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump from serving on the boards of any New York company, and to ban the Trump Organization from serving on its boards. It calls for a ban on buying any company. Receipt of his five-year loan from a commercial real estate or financial institution registered in New York.

James’ office is seeking to recover more than $250 million in ill-gotten gains through alleged fraud. said to the IRS.

Trump and his family have repeatedly denied wrongdoing, called the James investigation a “witch hunt,” and pointed to statements that James (Democrat) had promised to investigate him during the campaign.

“Today’s filing is not focused on facts or law, but solely on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda,” Trump’s attorney Alina Habba said in a statement Wednesday. “We believe our justice system will not tolerate this unchecked abuse of power, and we look forward to defending our clients against each and every one of the Attorney General’s baseless allegations. increase.”

Read the lawsuit filed against Donald Trump, his three children, and the Trump Organization

The lawsuit, filed in the New York Supreme Court, is the result of James’ over two-year investigation. The Trump Organization’s portfolio includes 23 properties, including the Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, the Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, New York, and the DC Hotel in the Old Post Office Building in Pennsylvania. is included. Avenue NW rented from the federal government until sold in May.

“Soaring asset valuations [financial] Statements cannot be disregarded or excused as a result of exaggerated or bona fide estimates that reasonable real estate professionals may differ,” the lawsuit states.

The civil complaint cites, among petitions made against financial institutions and insurance companies, significant manipulation of Trump’s personal wealth portfolio, with the direction of Trump and the support of Trump Organization officials. ‘s assets’ true value was concealed through careful falsification of reports and changes in the methodologies used for various calculations.

For example, the historic site Mar-a-Lago was valued at $739 million based on the potential for residential development on the site. In fact, Trump gave up his right to build homes there in exchange for substantial tax benefits known as conservation easements. Mar-a-Lago’s true value was about $75 million, the lawsuit says.

Trump’s three-story New York apartment in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue was reported at 30,000 square feet when it was actually one-third that size. James is said to have put the mansion’s valuation at $327 million in 2015. Four years ago he was $80 million, based on a significantly inflated square footage. James said the valuation was “absurd” considering he only had one apartment in New York City at the time. Even sold for $100 million.

The complaint comes at a time when Trump has left the White House more than 18 months, remains actively involved in Republican politics, and has widely suggested he will run for president again in 2024. is added to the growing list of legal issues facing. The Pentagon is investigating the possible mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and the potential role of Trump and his aides in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. On January 6, 2021, state officials in Georgia and a special committee in the House of Representatives also launched a broad investigation into the events surrounding the election.

The Status of Critical Investigations on Donald Trump

In addition to the personal names of Trump and his three children, the lawsuit will also name the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, who recently pleaded guilty to tax crimes. It is Jeffrey McConney.

If the New York Supreme Court bans the Trump Organization from acquiring or lending real estate, as the Attorney General has demanded, it’s unclear how the company can continue to operate without Trump taking the lead.

Trump’s former charity, the Trump Foundation, dissolved in 2018 following a lawsuit by then-New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood, Democrat. The findings of this incident were also sent to his IRS. The Attorney General’s Office likewise won her $25 million settlement with Trump University in 2016., He accused them of deceiving applicants by promoting useless degrees from unaccredited institutions.

James’ lawsuit accuses Trump, his family, and Trump Organization officials of engaging in various misconduct in dealings with lenders and regulators that they knew were illegal. Defense attorneys have told the court that commercial real estate firms routinely claim tax-reduced valuations, and the firm’s actions are no exception, but James on Wednesday called the incorrect valuation a “bona fide mistake.” “It can’t be wiped out,” he said.

Speaking at a news conference in Manhattan, James said Trump and his family should follow the same standards as regular Americans, saying that people are trying to secure college loans for their children or take out a mortgage. pointed out that it is illegal to lie to a bank.

“To claim to have money you don’t have is not the art of trading. It is the art of stealing,” said James, mocking the title of the former president’s 1987 book. We can’t have different rules for different people in the country or in this state.”

The lawsuit alleges that Trump fraudulently made about $100 million from the sale of a hotel lease in Washington, DC. Trump also claims that he knew his Trump Park Avenue complex in Manhattan wasn’t worth as much as he claimed because some units were rent-stabilized.

Trump’s team claimed Mar-a-Lago box contained only news clippings

The lawsuit alleges that the Trump Organization received preferential tax treatment and easements, including Mar-a-Lago tax benefits. In exchange for restrictions on future development, he deliberately omitted those restrictions when evaluating properties owned by Trump to lenders.

Banks and insurance companies have never publicly claimed that they were duped by Trump in their dealings with him. and the federal government DC Hotel Lease earlier this year. In addition, Trump has taken several real estate loans since he stepped down in early 2021, including his $100 million loan to his Tower, which Trump refinanced in February, and his club at Doral Golf in Florida. of loans have been approved for refinancing.

But the lawsuit has evidence that some of Trump’s partners have asked his company whether the information they provided for those loan deals was accurate.

In December 2020, after allegations that its financial statements may contain incorrect information were made public, Deutsche Bank officials wrote to Trump Organization officials, calling them “false or misleading. “It said providing the information to the bank would constitute a default,” the lawsuit said. A lawyer for the Trump Organization is said to have responded “within the next few days.” However, the company did not respond after the bank followed up, according to the complaint.

The Trump Organization paid off one Deutsche Bank loan when it sold the DC Hotel lease.Also We refinanced the German government bonds of Doral Resort.

Justice Department filing points to new legal dangers for Trump and his lawyers, expert says

The Attorney General’s Office produced a total of 873 pages of argument and evidence, including Trump’s annual financial condition report from 2011 to 2021..

James and then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (D) launched a parallel investigation into Trump’s business practices in 2019. This was after former Trump insider Michael Cohen testified before Congress about his longtime boss using a false net worth for public purposes.

Unlike James’ civil investigation, an investigation by the district attorney’s office is criminal in nature, with the possibility of a grand jury and criminal charges. Prosecutors are required to meet a higher legal standard for such charges than required for litigation. criminal investigation— James’ office assisted — It appeared to be on a gradual decline earlier this year. Two veteran prosecutors resigned, one complaining that Vance’s successor, District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, did not authorize Trump’s indictment.

But Bragg said on Wednesday that the investigation remains “active and ongoing.” The criminal case against Weisselberg, which resulted in his guilty plea, stemmed from an investigation by the district attorney. The Trump Organization has also been charged with tax-related crimes as part of the same investigation, with a trial scheduled for this fall.

Over the summer, James investigators took depositions from Trump himself and his two adult children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., both of whom have served as executives at the company. Eric Trump was fired in October 2020. Donald and Eric Trump have repeatedly argued for their Fifth Amendment rights to avoid answering questions that could incriminate themselves, but Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Her Jr. I answered the question of

Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump all attacked James on social media on Wednesday, Video clip of James vowing to sue Trump during his campaign.

Former Attorney General William P. Barr, who broke with Trump over the former president’s allegations of election fraud and possession of highly classified documents in Mar-a-Lago, Appearing on Fox News, he claimed that James’ efforts were problematic.

“I can’t help but conclude that this is a job that has been hit politically,” Barr said. “This was the woman who campaigned with a promise to go after Trump.”

O’Connell reported from Washington. Josh Dawsey of Washington contributed to this report.