New York attorney general sues Donald Trump and his company for commercial fraud

New York attorney general sues Donald Trump and his company for commercial fraud

The New York attorney general filed a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and his company Wednesday, alleging commercial fraud involving some of their most valuable assets, including real estate in Manhattan, Chicago and Washington, DC.

Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit, filed in state court in New York, is the culmination of a three-year civil investigation into Trump and the Trump Organization.

We see: New York Attorney General James files civil fraud lawsuit against Trump, kids

Three of Trump’s adult sons, Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric Trump, have also been named as defendants, along with two longtime company executives, Allen Wesselberg and Jeffrey McConaughey.

The lawsuit seeks to strike at the core of what made Trump famous, while shedding a black light on the image of wealth and luxury he has espoused throughout his career — first as a real estate developer, then as a reality TV host on The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice, and later as president.

James, a Democrat, announced details of the lawsuit at a news conference on Wednesday. The case appeared on the court’s schedule Wednesday morning.

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

The attorney general’s office said the goal was to polish Trump’s image of the billionaire and the value of his holdings when it gave him an advantage, while devaluing the assets at other times for tax purposes.

“This investigation has revealed that Donald Trump has engaged in years of illegal behavior to inflate his net worth, to deceive the banks and the people of the great state of New York,” James said at the press conference. “Claiming that you have money that you don’t have is not quite the art of the bargain. It is the art of stealing.”

James is seeking to remove the Trump family from the companies involved in the alleged fraud and wants an independent monitor appointed for at least five years to oversee Trump Organization compliance and financial reporting, assessments and disclosures to lenders, insurers and tax authorities.

It seeks to replace the current trustees of Trump’s revocable trust, which controls his business interests, with independent trustees, to prevent Trump and the Trump Organization from entering into commercial real estate acquisitions for five years, from taking loans from banks in New York for five years and to prevent Trump and three of his adult children permanently from employment as an officer or director of any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in the State of New York.

It also seeks to permanently prevent Weisselberg and McConney from serving in the financial control function of any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in the State of New York.

James said her investigation uncovered potential criminal violations, including falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud, conspiracy and bank fraud. She said her office transmits those findings to federal prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service.

Alina Hobba, Trump’s attorney, said the lawsuit “focuses neither on the facts nor on the law – it focuses only on advancing the attorney general’s political agenda.”

“It is quite clear that the attorney general’s office has exceeded its legal authority by snooping on deals in which no wrongdoing occurred at all,” Habba said. “We are confident that our judicial system will not stand up to abuse of absolute power, and we look forward to defending our client against each of the attorney general’s unfounded allegations.”

James’ lawsuit comes amid a downward spiral of unprecedented legal challenges for a former president, including the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified records and investigations into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The Trump Organization is due to go on trial in October in a criminal case it alleges planned to grant non-taxable privileges to top executives, including longtime CFO Wesselberg, who single-handedly earned more than $1.7 million in additions.

Weiselberg, 75, pleaded guilty on August 18. The plea agreement requires him to testify at the company’s trial before he begins his five-month prison sentence. If convicted, the Trump Organization could face a fine of twice the amount of unpaid taxes.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has conducted a parallel criminal investigation of the same business practices at the heart of James’ civil suit. That investigation lost momentum earlier this year after Bragg raised internal questions about whether the criminal case was viable, but the Democrat said it was not abandoned.

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

All the legal drama takes place ahead of the November midterm elections, as Republicans try to win control of one or both houses of Congress.

Meanwhile, Trump has been paving the way for a possible return to the presidency in 2024 and has accused President Joe Biden’s administration of targeting him to damage his political chances.

State law allows for a wide range of civil remedies against companies that commit business fraud, including revocation of licenses to do business in the state, removal of company officials and forcing them to pay damages or invalidate wrongful gains.

James’ office may also seek to bar Trump from getting involved in certain types of business, as happened in January when a judge banned former drugmaker Martin Shkreli from working in the pharmaceutical industry for life.

In a previous clash with Trump, James oversaw the closure of his charitable foundation, the Trump Foundation, after its predecessor in the Attorney General’s Office, Barbara Underwood, filed a lawsuit alleging he misused its assets to resolve business disputes and advance his candidacy for whites. a house. A judge has ordered Trump to pay $2 million to a group of charities to settle the matter.

James, who has campaigned for the position as a Trump critic and watchdog, began scrutinizing his business practices in March 2019 after his former personal attorney Michael Cohen testified before Congress that Trump had exaggerated his fortune on financial statements submitted to Deutsche Bank when he was trying to obtain financing. To buy NFL buffalo bills.

Since then, James’ office and Trump’s attorney have repeatedly squabbled over the direction of the investigation and Trump’s unwillingness to comply with subpoenas for his testimony and records. Trump spent months fighting the subpoena that led to his testimony in August, and his attorneys were unable to convince the courts that he should be exempted from testifying because his answers could be used in the Prague criminal investigation.

In May, Trump paid a $110,000 fine after he was detained in contempt of court for being slow to respond to a subpoena issued by James’ office to obtain documents and other evidence. The contempt case was filed in June after Trump and his lawyers filed papers showing they made a good faith effort to find the relevant documents.

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