New York’s attorney general says investigators uncovered evidence former President Donald Trump’s company used ‘fraudulent or misleading’ appraisals of its golf clubs, skyscrapers and other property to secure loans and tax advantages.
In a filing late Tuesday, attorneys for Attorney General Letitia James told a judge they had not decided whether to pursue legal action in relation to the allegations, but that investigators should be allowed to question Trump. and her two eldest children under oath as part of the civil investigation.
The Trump Organization released a statement on Wednesday calling the investigation “baseless” and politically motivated.
Court documents contain the attorney general’s most detailed account to date of a long-running investigation into allegations that Trump’s company exaggerated the value of its holdings to impress lenders or misrepresented what the land was worth. to reduce its tax burden.
The Trump Organization, James’s office said, overstated the value of land donations made in New York and California on documents submitted to the IRS to justify several million dollars in tax deductions.
In giving estimates of Trump’s wealth, the company misstated the size of its Manhattan penthouse, saying it was nearly three times its actual size – a difference in value of about $200 million, it said. James’ office, citing deposition testimony from longtime Trump finance chief Allen. Weisselberg, who was charged last year with tax evasion in a parallel criminal investigation.
James’ office detailed its findings in a lawsuit seeking to force Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and son Donald Trump Jr. to comply with subpoenas demanding their testimony.
Investigators, according to court documents, have “developed significant additional evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or deceptive asset appraisals to obtain a multitude of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage and tax deductions.
In its statement, the Trump Organization said “the only one misleading the public is Letitia James.”
“She defrauded New Yorkers by basing her entire candidacy on a promise to get Trump at any cost without seeing a shred of evidence and in violation of every imaginable ethical rule,” they wrote. “Three years later, she is now faced with the harsh reality that she has no case.”
Donald Trump Jr. said on Twitter that the investigation “is nothing more than political retribution by him on behalf of the entire Democratic Party. It should be expunged!”
The disclosure comes as Trump laid the groundwork for a possible 2024 return to the presidency campaign. He held his first rally of the new year last weekend in Arizona, where he criticized the “monsters who use law enforcement for political retaliation at the local, state and federal level” and released an anti-James video highlighting his past anti-Trump statements.
Trump’s legal team has sought to block subpoenas and last month asked a federal court to end James’ investigation. This trial is ongoing. His attorneys say James is wrongfully trying to obtain testimony in his civil investigation that could be used in a parallel criminal investigation overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, James’ office said the evidence gathered so far shows his investigation should continue unhindered.
“For more than two years, the Trump Organization has used delay tactics and litigation to try to thwart a legitimate investigation into its financial dealings,” James said. “So far in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence to suggest that Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic gain.”
Although James’s investigation is separate from the criminal investigation, his office has been involved in both, sending multiple attorneys to work side-by-side with prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
James’ office said that under state law, he can seek “a wide range of remedies” against companies found guilty of commercial fraud, including revocation of licenses to do business in the state, seek the removal of corporate executives or seek restitution and “restitution.” ill-gotten gains”.
In court documents, James’ office said evidence shows that Trump’s company:
– Listed his Seven Springs estate in upstate New York as worth $291 million, based on a dubious assumption that he could rake in $161 million by building nine luxury homes.
— Added a 15% to 30% “brand premium” to the value of some properties because they bore Trump’s name, despite financial statements explicitly stating they did not incorporate brand value .
– Inflated the value of a suburban New York golf club by millions of dollars by counting membership fees that weren’t sold or never paid.
– Valued a Park Avenue condominium tower at $350 million, based on the proceeds it could make from unsold units, even though many of those apartments were likely to sell for less because they were covered by rent stabilization laws.
– Estimated an apartment rented to Ivanka Trump at $25 million, although she had the option of buying it for $8.5 million.
– Said in documents that his stake in an office building, 40 Wall Street, was worth between $525 million and $602 million, two to three times the estimate made by appraisers working for lender Capital One.
A judge previously sided with James on an earlier request to question another son of Trump, Trump Organization executive Eric Trump, who eventually sat down for a deposition but declined to answer to certain questions.
Last year, the Manhattan District Attorney filed tax evasion charges against the Trump Organization and Weisselberg, its longtime chief financial officer.
Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he and the company evaded employee benefit taxes paid to executives.
The revelations about the attorney general’s probe came the same day Trump ally Rudy Giuliani and other members of the legal team who were seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election were subpoenaed. by a House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection.