Massive Financial Fraud Lawsuit Against Trump Family Announced

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New York state Attorney General Letitia James has finally unveiled a sweeping lawsuit accusing Trump and all three of his adult children with prominent ties to the family business — meaning Eric, Donald Jr., and Ivanka — of engaging in financial misconduct.

In the case, James wants all of the Trump family members she named as targets blocked from serving as any business’s officers or directors in New York state ever again, and concurrently, she also evidently referred the matter to the IRS and the office of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney, whose jurisdiction is the Southern District of New York. She provided the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office with details collected in her probe into Trump, which revealed conduct that potentially violated federal prohibitions on bank fraud. James’s case covers issues she has been investigating in a high-profile manner for years: dramatically deceptive valuations of various assets at the Trump company. The valuations were set to provide the family firm with unearned financial benefits like tax breaks and favorable terms on loans.

James’s new case outlines the range of deceptive valuations she uncovered, and according to the attorney general’s findings, it’s almost all Donald’s properties: “The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering, affecting most if not all of the real estate holdings in any given year.” In one instance, the valuation of a golf club in Westchester County, New York, which is north of New York City, was tabulated as though pricey initiation fees were already imposed, although the charges and income didn’t exist — at all. In another instance, the size of Trump’s residence at Trump Tower in Manhattan was overstated. These aren’t passing mistakes — it’s a pattern of making things up that aren’t there. In total, over 23 assets are included in James’s lawsuit among examples of false valuations at issue.

Cases include a bank ordering an appraisal of 40 Wall Street that pinned the value at around $200 million — which the Trump Organization subsequently more than doubled in its own valuation. James has a lot of specifics for the deception she says was included in the company’s valuations of its assets, which she said included more than 200 deceptive claims of value. She also assembled highly specific details for the financial benefits Trump obtained with the help of these misrepresentations: a quarter of a billion dollars, and James is also pursuing the prospect of seeing that money recovered (meaning the Trump Organization would have to pay huge penalties). Other consequences James is seeking include the selection of an independent monitor to oversee financial conduct at the Trump business and a block on any new acquisitions of New York real estate for five years.

If Trump wants to pass off responsibility for his company’s deceptive financial statements to somebody else — well, the new lawsuit from James covers that prospect, too. Per her case, Trump’s corner “engaged in conduct intended to mislead Mazars in connection with its work compiling the statements, including by concealing important information.” Mazars USA was a longtime accounting firm for the Trump business. The deceptive valuations “cannot be brushed aside or excused as merely the result of exaggeration or good faith estimation about which reasonable real estate professionals may differ,” the lawsuit insists. In reality, those behind the numbers used “objectively false assumptions and blatantly improper methodologies with the intent and purpose of falsely and fraudulently inflating Mr. Trump’s net worth,” the lawsuit — which also names Allen Weisselberg among defendants — asserts.

Image: Gage Skidmore/ Creative Commons