New York AG: Investigators Found Evidence of Fraud by Trump Organization

Letitia James says authorities haven't yet decided whether to pursue legal action
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 19, 2022 12:59 AM CST
New York AG: Trump Organization Misled Banks, Tax Officials
New York Attorney General Letitia James acknowledges questions from journalists at a news conference on May 21, 2021, in New York.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(Newser) – The New York attorney general’s office late Tuesday told a court its investigators had uncovered evidence that Donald Trump’s company used “fraudulent or misleading” asset valuations to get loans and tax benefits, the AP reports. The court filing said state authorities haven’t yet decided whether to bring a civil lawsuit in connection with the allegations, but that investigators need to question Trump and his two eldest children as part of the probe. Trump and his lawyers say the investigation is politically motivated. In the court documents, Attorney General Letitia James’ office gave its most detailed accounting yet of its investigation of allegations that Trump's company repeatedly exaggerated the value of assets to get favorable loan terms, or misstated what land was worth to slash its tax burden.

The Trump Organization, it said, had overstated the value of land donations made in New York and California on paperwork submitted to the IRS to justify several million dollars in tax deductions. The company misreported the size of Trump's Manhattan penthouse, saying it was nearly three times its actual size—a difference in value of about $200 million, James' office said, citing deposition testimony from Trump's longtime financial chief Allen Weisselberg, who was charged last year with tax fraud in a parallel criminal investigation. James’ office detailed its findings in a court motion seeking to force Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. to comply with subpoenas seeking their testimony.

Investigators, the court papers said, had “developed significant additional evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions." Trump's legal team has sought to block the subpoenas, calling them “an unprecedented and unconstitutional maneuver." They say James is improperly attempting to obtain testimony that could be used in the parallel criminal investigation, being overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump sued James in federal court last month, seeking to put an end to her investigation. In the past, the Republican ex-president has decried James’ investigation and Bragg's probe as part of a “witch hunt." (The AP has more details of what the investigators found here.)

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