In the more than 200-page lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, alleges the fraud touched all aspects of the Trump business, including its properties and golf courses. According to the lawsuit, the Trump Organization deceived lenders, insurers and tax authorities by inflating the value of his properties using misleading appraisals.
“This conduct cannot be brushed aside and dismissed as some sort of good-faith mistake,” James said at a news conference in New York.
“The statements of financial condition were greatly exaggerated, grossly inflated, objectively false, and therefore fraudulent and illegal,” she added. “And as a result of that we are seeking relief, and Mr. Trump, the Trump Organization, his family — they should all be held accountable.”
James said she believes state and criminal laws may have been violated and referred the matter to the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service.
The US attorney’s office declined to comment.
“These acts of fraud and misrepresentation were similar in nature, were committed by upper management at the Trump Organization as part of a common endeavor for each annual Statement, and were approved at the highest levels of the Trump Organization — including by Mr. Trump himself,” the lawsuit states.
As part of the lawsuit, James is seeking $250 million in allegedly ill-gotten funds and to permanently bar Trump and the children named in the lawsuit from serving as the director of a business registered in New York state. She is also seeking to cancel 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 running a “vindictive and self-serving fishing expedition.” The Trump Organization called her previously allegations “baseless” and denied any wrongdoing.
Responding to Wednesday’s announcement, Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a statement to CNN: “Today’s filing is neither focused on the facts nor the law — rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda. It is abundantly clear that the Attorney General’s Office has exceeded its statutory authority by prying into transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place.”
Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante, declined to comment.
The civil lawsuit comes as Trump is under increasing legal pressure as prosecutors are taking investigative steps that move ever closer to his inner circle.
Trump is facing numerous criminal investigations from federal and state prosecutors involving 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 alleges that Trump lied 200+ times about the value of his assets
James alleges that the former President and his company made “scores of fraudulent, false, and misleading representations” over a 10-year period, according to the lawsuit, which specifically highlighted what it called “200 false and misleading valuations” of Trump’s assets.
“The financial statements in question were issued annually; each contained a significant number of fraudulent, false, and misleading representations about a great many of the Trump Organization’s assets; and most played a role in particular transactions with financial institutions,” the lawsuit alleges.
“The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering,” the suit adds.
According to James, Trump’s businesses prepared statements of financial condition every year to submit to banks and other financial institutions. The statements showed the financial position of the Trump businesses, James said, and were relied upon if the Trump Organization wanted to apply for loans.
Each statement was personally certified as accurate by Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., or Weisselberg, James told reporters on Wednesday.
Trump “made known” that “he wanted his net worth reflected on those statements to increase,” James said, “a desire Mr. Weisselberg and others carried out year after year in their fraudulent preparation of those statements.”
As an example of allegations Trump inflated valuations to increase his own profits. James highlighted what she says happened with 40 Wall Street, a property known as The Trump Building in New York City’s financial district, which is referenced dozens of times in the lawsuit.
Trump’s company obtained appraisals for the property in 2010 and 2012, which found that it was worth $200 million and $220 million respectively, according to the lawsuit. But Trump’s company repeatedly claimed that the property was worth a lot more in its official financial statements, according to the lawsuit.
In 2011, Trump’s company said the property was worth $524 million. He said it was worth $527 million in 2012, and $530 million in 2013, according to…