New York Attorney General sues Donald Trump and company alleging business fraud

New York’s attorney general on Wednesday indicted former President Donald Trump and his company, alleging business fraud involving some of their most valuable assets, including properties in Manhattan, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit brought by Attorney General Letitia James in New York state court is the culmination of a three-year civil investigation by Democrats into Trump and the Trump Organization.

ocean: New York Attorney General James files civil fraud lawsuit against Trump and children

Trump’s three adult children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump, and two longtime company executives, Alan Wesselberg and Jeffrey McConney, are also named as defendants.

The lawsuit seeks to strike at the heart of Trump’s fame, discrediting the image of wealth and opulence he has championed throughout his career — first as a real estate developer, then as a reality TV show on The Apprentice and The Apprentice host. Celebrity Apprentice”, later as president.

Democrat James announced details of the lawsuit at a news conference Wednesday. The case appeared on the court docket on Wednesday morning.

James said Trump “misinflated his net worth by billions of dollars.”

The Attorney General’s office said it was designed to boost Trump’s billionaire profile and the value of his property, giving him an advantage at other times to dilute the value of assets for tax purposes.

“This investigation shows that Donald Trump has engaged in illegal conduct over the years to inflate his net worth, defraud banks and the people of New York State,” James said in a news conference. “To claim that you have money you don’t have is not a The art of making a deal. It’s the art of stealing.”

James is seeking to remove the Trump family from the alleged fraudulent business and wants to appoint an independent monitor for no less than five years to oversee the Trump Organization’s compliance, financial reporting, valuations and compliance with lenders. , insurance companies and tax authorities.

She is seeking to replace the current trustee of Trump’s revocable trust, which controls his business interests, with an independent trustee to bar Trump and the Trump Organization from commercial real estate acquisitions for five years, from New York The bank obtained the loan for five years and permanently barred Trump and his three adult children from serving as officers or directors in any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in New York State.

She also seeks to permanently bar Weisselberg and McConney from serving as the financial controlling function of any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in New York State.

James said her investigation uncovered potential criminal conduct, including falsification of business records, publishing false financial statements, insurance fraud, conspiracy and bank fraud. She said her office is referring those findings to federal prosecutors and the IRS.

Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, said the lawsuit “focuses neither on the facts nor the law — it’s just about advancing the attorney general’s political agenda.”

“It is very clear that the Attorney General’s Office has gone beyond its statutory authority to snoop on transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has occurred,” Haba said. “We are confident that our judicial system will not tolerate this unchecked behavior. abuse of power, and we look forward to defending our clients against every baseless charge of the Attorney General.”

James’ lawsuit comes as the former president faces unprecedented legal challenges, including an FBI probe into Trump’s handling of classified records and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The Trump Organization will face trial in October in a criminal case alleging that it planned to provide tax-free allowances to senior executives, including longtime treasurer Weisselberg, who alone received more than $1.7 million in additional fees.

Weisselberg, 75, pleaded guilty in August. 18. His plea deal required him to testify at the company’s trial before starting his five-month jail term. If convicted, the Trump Organization could face fines or double the unpaid taxes.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been conducting a parallel criminal investigation into the same business practices at the heart of James’ civil lawsuit. The probe lost steam earlier this year after Bragg questioned the viability of the criminal case internally, but Democrats say it has not given up.

Meanwhile, the FBI is continuing to investigate Trump’s storage of sensitive government documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and a special grand jury in Georgia is investigating whether Trump and others tried to influence state elections officials.

All the legal drama plays out ahead of November’s midterm elections, where Republicans are trying to win control of one or both houses of Congress.

Trump, meanwhile, has been laying the groundwork for a possible presidential comeback in 2024, accusing President Joe Biden’s administration of targeting him to harm his political chances.

State law allows for a wide range of civil remedies against companies engaged in business fraud, including revocation of licenses to do business in the state, removal of company officials, and enforcement of damages or ill-gotten gains.

James’ office could also seek to bar Trump from certain types of business, as happened in January when a judge barred former pharma CEO Martin Shkreli from working in the pharmaceutical industry for life.

In a previous conflict with Trump, James oversaw the shutdown of his charity, the Trump Foundation, after her predecessor Barbara Underwood in the attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit accusing him of misusing its assets to settle business disputes And promote his campaign for the White House. A judge ordered Trump to pay $2 million to a series of charities to settle the matter.

James, who is running for office as a Trump critic and watchdog, died after his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress that Trump inflated his wealth on financial statements he provided to Deutsche Bank while trying to secure financing. In March 2019, a review of his business practices to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills began.

Since then, James’ office and Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly sparred over the direction of the investigation and Trump’s reluctance to comply with subpoenas to obtain his testimony and records. Trump spent months battling the subpoena that led to his testimony in August, and his lawyers were unable to convince the court that he should be excused from testifying because his answers could be used in the criminal investigation in Prague.

In May, Trump was held in contempt of court and paid a $110,000 fine for his slow response to a subpoena from James’ office seeking documents and other evidence. The contempt investigation was dropped in June after documents filed by Trump and his lawyers showed they had made a good-faith effort to find relevant documents.

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