October 1, 2022

Alleging that former President Donald Trump, his three children and their eponymous company made widespread attempts to manipulate property valuations, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday that her office is suing them, seeking $250 million and an end to their operations in the state. . .

James’ office alleged in a 221-page complaint filed Wednesday that Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, as well as others who served as corporate executives in the Trump Organization, engaged in a multiyear scheme to enrich themselves by inflating the value of a broad spectrum of real estate, spanning across his international real estate empire.

“Claiming you have money you don’t have isn’t the art of the deal, it’s the art of the steal,” James said at a news conference Wednesday. She added that the investigation included interviews with more than 65 witnesses.

During the press conference, James said she wanted to dissolve Trump’s company, but later clarified that dissolution was not among the remedies her office was seeking.

James’ office is asking a judge to revoke the Trump Organization’s business certificate, effectively barring it from doing business in New York. Her office is seeking to permanently bar Trump and his children named in the lawsuit from serving as officers or directors of any business entity in New York, including their family’s company. It also seeks a five-year ban on Trump and company from acquiring real estate in New York or applying for loans from any New York-based company.

In a statement to CBS News, Alina Habba, a lawyer for Donald Trump, said that “today’s filing is focused on neither the facts nor the law β€” it is solely focused on advancing the attorney general’s political agenda.”

“It is abundantly clear that the Attorney General’s Office overstepped its legal authority by engaging in transactions where there was no wrongdoing,” Habba said. “We are confident that our justice system will not withstand this unchecked abuse of power, and we look forward to defending our client against any baseless claims by the Attorney General.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks at a press conference regarding the financial fraud case against former U.S. President Donald Trump and his family on Sept. 21, 2022, in New York.

YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images

The lawsuit accuses the company of more than 200 cases of false property valuations. In one instance highlighted in the complaint, James’ office said Trump’s company said a dozen stabilized apartments on Trump Park Avenue were listed on corporate filings as worth more than $49.5 million. In fact, James’ office said, they were valued at a total of $750,000.

James’ office launched a civil investigation in 2019 after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, testified before Congress, raising questions about whether the Trump Organization “issued false financial statements,” according to court filings related to the investigation. The initial focus of the investigation was whether the Trump Organization inflated property valuations while seeking loans and insurance and reduced the value of other assets to reduce tax liabilities.

It grew into a sweeping investigation into dozens of Trump properties and years of Trump Organization finances. Investigators in James’ office have reviewed more than a million pages of documents, according to and issued subpoenas to dozens of current and former executives who work for the Trump Organization and other companies affiliated with it. Finally, in August, Trump and two of his children – Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. – sat down to testify after nearly a year of fighting.

Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer hundreds of questions.

The investigation played out as a “special proceeding,” with a New York judge presiding over years of contentious subpoena and other challenges in often public filings and hearings.

The proceedings publicized events that might otherwise remain confidential, such as a letter sent to the company in February by its longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, cutting ties with the Trump Organization and saying its decade’s worth of financial statements “should no longer be he can be relied upon.”

In court, lawyers from James’ office described an attempt to unravel the finances of properties from Los Angeles to Scotland. They have repeatedly said their investigation reveals evidence that Trump and his company “fraudulently” valued multiple properties and “misrepresented” those values ​​to financial institutions they partnered with.

Attorneys for the Trump Organization denounced the effort in hearings and filings as an unprecedented “fishing expedition.”

The company has repeatedly tried to stop the investigation and protect the Trumps from testifying, but each time they were rejected by New York courts, which ruled that the investigation and its subpoenas were legal.

Trump and his company have repeatedly denied all allegations of wrongdoing, calling it a “witch hunt” and a “political crusade.” Trump’s lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit comes at a time when Trump and the company face mounting legal jeopardy. The Trump Organization is set to go on trial on October 24 in Manhattan, where it will fight charges of fraud and tax evasion. The company pleaded not guilty in this case.

Trump is at the center of at least two federal investigations β€” a grand jury investigation into his alleged role in the events leading up to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol and a separate investigation into his handling of documents marked “Top Secret.” found at his home in Florida. He is also the focus of a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, which is investigating Trump’s conduct after he lost the 2020 election.

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