NEW YORK – New York’s attorney general’s office told a court late Tuesday that its investigators had uncovered evidence that President Donald Trump’s company used “fraudulent or misleading” asset valuations to obtain loans and tax benefits.
The court filing says state authorities have not yet decided whether to pursue a civil action in connection with the allegations, but that investigators need to question Trump and his two eldest children as part of the investigation.
Trump and his lawyers say the investigation is politically motivated.
In the court documents, Attorney General Letitia James’ office presented its most detailed review yet of its investigation into allegations that Trump’s company repeatedly misstated asset values to obtain favorable credit terms or reduce his tax burden.
The Trump Organization overstated the value of land donations in New York and California on documentation submitted to the IRS to justify multimillion-dollar tax deductions.
The company misrepresented the size of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse, saying it was almost three times the actual size — a difference in value of about $200 million, James’s office said, citing a statement by Trump’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, who was charged last year with tax evasion in a parallel investigation.
James’ office detailed his findings in a court motion aimed at compelling Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and son Donald Trump Jr. to comply with subpoenas asking for their testimony.
Investigators, according to the court filing, had developed “significant additional evidence suggesting that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a variety of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage and tax deductions.”
Messages asking for comment were left with lawyers for the Trumps.
Trump’s legal team has tried to block the subpoenas, calling them an “unprecedented and unconstitutional maneuver.” They say James is improperly attempting to obtain testimony that could then be used in the parallel criminal investigation being overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Trump sued James in federal court last month to end their investigation. In the lawsuit, his attorneys allege that the attorney general, a Democrat, violated the Republican’s constitutional rights in a “thinly veiled attempt to publicly slander Trump and his associates.”
In the past, the Republican ex-president has denounced James and Bragg’s investigations as part of a “witch hunt”.
In a statement late Tuesday, James’ office said it had not yet decided whether the evidence set out in Tuesday’s court filings warranted legal action, but that the investigation should proceed unhindered.
“For more than two years, the Trump Organization has used delaying tactics and litigation to thwart a legitimate investigation into its financial operations,” James said. “To date in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence suggesting that Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization mispriced and fraudulently multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic gain.”
Although James’ civil investigation is separate from the criminal investigation, her office was involved in both and dispatched several attorneys to work alongside prosecutors from the Manhattan Attorney’s Office.
A judge has previously sided with James on other matters related to the investigation, including testimony from another Trump son, Trump Organization executive Eric Trump, after his attorneys abruptly canceled a scheduled testimony.
Last year, the Manhattan District Attorney filed tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization and Weisselberg, its longtime chief financial officer.
Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to charges that he and the company evaded taxes on lucrative perks paid to executives.
Both investigations are linked, at least in part, to allegations by news reports and by Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, that Trump has a history of misrepresenting the value of assets.