In the more than 200-page lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, alleges the fraud touched on all aspects of Trump’s business, including his real estate and golf courses. According to the lawsuit, the Trump Organization deceived lenders, insurers and tax authorities by inflating the value of its properties with misleading estimates.
“These acts of fraud and misrepresentation were of a similar nature, were committed by upper management of the Trump Organization as part of a concerted effort for each annual statement, and were approved at the highest levels of the Trump Organization — including by Mr. Trump himself,” it said in the lawsuit.
James said she believes state and criminal laws may have been violated and referred the matter to the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service.
James is allegedly seeking $250 million in ill-gotten gains and wants to permanently bar Trump and the children named in the lawsuit from serving as directors of a New York state-registered company. It is also seeking to nullify the Trump Organization’s corporate certificate, which, if granted by a judge, could effectively force the company to cease operations in New York State.
Trump previously called James a “renegade prosecutor” who he said is leading a “vengeful and self-serving fishing expedition.” The Trump Organization called its previous allegations “baseless” and denied any wrongdoing.
In response to Wednesday’s announcement, Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a statement to CNN, “Today’s filing is not focused on the facts or the law – rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda.” It is quite clear that the Attorney General’s Office exceeded its statutory authority by investigating transactions in which absolutely no wrongdoing took place.”
Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante, declined to comment.
The civil lawsuit comes as Trump faces increasing legal pressure as prosecutors take investigative moves that draw ever closer to his inner circle.
Trump faces numerous criminal investigations from federal and state prosecutors into the accuracy of his company’s financial statements, interference in the 2020 presidential election and his handling of classified documents after leaving office. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
AG claims Trump lied about the value of his wealth more than 200 times
James alleges that the former president and his company made “numerous fraudulent, false and misleading representations” over a 10-year period, according to the lawsuit, which specifically highlighted the so-called “200 false and misleading reviews” of Trump’s fortune .
‘The financial statements in question were prepared on an annual basis; each contained a significant number of fraudulent, false and misleading accounts of many Trump Organization assets; and most played a role in certain transactions with financial institutions,” the lawsuit states.
The announcement is the latest development in a three-year investigation into the Trump Organization’s finances, which was led by James.
In January, James’ office said it found “significant” evidence suggesting the Trump Organization used false or misleading valuations of assets in its financial statements to obtain credit, insurance and tax benefits. The following month, Trump’s longtime accounting firm resigned.
James’ began her investigation in 2019 after Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney, Michael Cohen, testified before Congress that Trump overstated certain assets to obtain credit and insurance and understated others to gain tax benefits.
In addition to the new fraud lawsuit, the Trump Organization will face trial next month for being involved in a 15-year tax fraud scheme and for having its longtime chief financial officer agree to testify against the company.
In recent weeks, the Trump Organization had offered to settle to dismiss the lawsuit, though they denied any wrongdoing, but James’ office made it clear it wasn’t interested in a deal, people familiar with the matter said.
The family was dropped off by the AG office
In April, after a protracted legal battle to enforce subpoenas for Trump and the testimonies of his adult children, attorneys for James’ office said they were nearing the end of the investigation and needed the Trumps’ testimony before making a decision.
Last month, Trump did not answer questions and asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when he was removed from office by the attorney general’s office. Eric Trump, who runs the business on a daily basis, also invoked his Fifth Amendment right in 2020 in response to more than 500 questions.
Because Trump and Eric Trump have declined to answer questions, if the case goes to trial, the jury may reach a “negative conclusion” against them for not answering questions. This could lead to a higher judgment against them or the company if they are found liable.
Ivanka Trump and Trump Jr. both answered questions in interviews that spanned more than seven hours, sources told CNN.
This story has been updated with additional details.