Donald Trump and three of his children were sued on Wednesday by New York state’s attorney general alleging numerous “years of bank, tax, and insurance fraud”.
The lawsuit alleges that the Trump Organisation lied about the value of real estate in order to get loans and pay less tax and committed numerous acts of fraud over ten years between 2011 and 2021.
It named the Trump Organisation as well as the former US president’s sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump as well as his daughter Ivanka Trump.
Attorney General Letitia James said her office uncovered more than 200 examples of misleading asset valuations, and the complaint mentioned 23 assets that she called “grossly and fraudulently inflated.”
However, the Trump Organisation has denied any wrongdoing and the former president has dismissed the lawsuit as “another witch hunt”.
The civil lawsuit, which is more than 220 pages in length, was brought forward by Ms James, who is the state’s most senior lawyer, following a three year investigation.
In a statement at a press conference she said: “With the help of his children and senior executives at the Trump Organisation, Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and cheat the system.
“White collar financial crime is not a victimless crime.
“When the well-connected break the law to take in more money than they are entitled to, it reduces resources available to working people, to regular people, to small businesses and to all taxpayers.”
The lawsuit accuses Trump of inflating his net worth “by billions” in order to induce banks to lend money to his company on more favourable terms, to satisfy continuing loan terms, to coax insurers to provide coverage for higher limits at lower premiums, to gain tax benefits and other purposes.
Ms James is asking the court to permanently bar Trump and his three children named as defendants in the case from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation, prohibit Trump and the Trump Organisation from entering into any commercial real estate acquisitions in New York for five years and award disgorgement of all financial benefits gained fraudulently – estimated to total $250m.
The attorney general added: “The pattern of fraud and deception that was used by Mr. Trump and the Trump Organisation for their own financial benefit is astounding.
“Claiming that you have money that you do not have does not amount to the ‘art of the deal,’ it’s the art of the steal,” she said, referring to the title of a 1987 book written by Trump.
Ms James said that while her office are not seeking a dissolution of the Trump Organisation, the penalties they seek could amount to an effective ‘death penalty’ for the Trump Organisation to continue in New York.
She added that her office rejected settlement offers submitted by the defendants.
The Trump Organisation has separately been charged with criminal tax fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and is preparing for trial on October 24.
Its former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg – who is also named as a defendant in James’ suit – has pleaded guilty and is expected to testify against the company.