The Republican ex-president has denied wrongdoing and characterised James’ investigation as a politically driven witch hunt.
According to a lawsuit filed by the state’s attorney general on Wednesday, Donald Trump and members of his family have engaged in a multiyear scheme to fraudulently inflate the value of his properties with the intent of enriching themselves at the expense of the state of New York, local governments, and private lenders and insurers.
Former president Trump, with the help of his children and others at the Trump Organization, allegedly submitted false claims of net worth and misleading appraisals of assets “to acquire and fulfil loans, gain insurance benefits, and pay lesser taxes,” according to top state prosecutor Letitia James.
In a nutshell, “he lied to get himself enormous financial rewards.”
Trump is considering a bid for president again in 2024, so this inquiry is only one of several ongoing criminal, civil, and legislative examinations against him.
Trump’s spokeswoman also called the lawsuit a political ploy by Democrats to hurt the Republican billionaire, and Trump himself reaffirmed his claim that he is the victim of “another witch hunt.”
Her agency demanded that the ex-president pay at least $250 million in fines, which she claims he made through the fraud, and that his family be barred from operating enterprises in the state.
She further advocated for a five-year ban on Trump and his children Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump owning any real estate in the state.
“The fundamental core of his stated net worth is built in enormous deception and crime,” James added.
She made reference to Trump’s book title, “The Art of the Deal,” saying, “Mr. Trump felt he could get away with the art of the steal, but today, that conduct ends.”
Extremely high prices
According to James, the three-year inquiry warrants a criminal referral to the US Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service.
It is claimed in the complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court that Trump’s yearly financial statements for at least a decade “grossly exaggerated” the worth of his properties, including the Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and the Trump Tower in Manhattan.
James, who will be standing for re-election in November, said that the man had done this in order to get loans with more lenient terms, such as reduced interest rates and insurance premiums.
More than two hundred inaccurate and deceptive asset values were released by Trump and his allies, according to her office’s tally.
Among the allegations made in the lawsuit is that Trump and his associates made it appear as though he had cash on hand when he did not, made wildly varying valuations of his properties, and used “objectively false numbers to calculate property values,” including for his illustrious Fifth Avenue triplex.
According to James, one of the allegations against Trump is that he overvalued his Trump Park Avenue property by 65 times by assessing the 12 rent-stabilized units there at market rates.
White-collar financial crime does affect real people, James said.
Working people, average people, small companies, and all taxpayers lose out when the well-connected break the law to take in more money than they are entitled to.
James’s lawsuit seeks to have a judge remove the Trumps from their family business and replace them with an impartial body charged with overseeing the Trump Organization’s finances.
In 2018, the Manhattan district attorney began investigating Trump, who has long sought to portray himself as a self-made millionaire, and his family company.
Once Trump’s former attorney testified that the corporation participated in wrongdoing, James’ civil investigation began the next year.
A criminal investigation by the DA has not yet resulted in any charges.
Former Trump Organization finance head Allen Weisselberg pled guilty to tax fraud last month and has agreed to testify in the impending criminal trial of the former US president’s real estate firm.
On the condition that he testifies truthfully in October’s criminal trial of the Trump Organization on tax fraud allegations, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced last month that he will serve five months in prison.
Separate teams of FBI investigators raided Trump’s luxurious Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on August 8, seizing classified materials marked “Top Secret,” “Secret,” and “Confidential.”
Trump’s efforts to alter the results of the November 2020 election and the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol are also under investigation by the law enforcement community.