In this file photo taken on January 11, 2017, US President-elect Donald Trump along with his children Eric (left), Ivanka and Donald Jr., arrive for a press conference on January 11, 2017, at Trump Tower in New York.
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against former US President Donald Trump on Wednesday for alleged financial fraud.
James accused Trump, the Trump Organization, senior management, and involved entities of “engaging in years of financial fraud to obtain a host of economic benefits.”
The civil lawsuit alleged Trump, with the help of his three adult children and senior executives at the Trump Organization, falsely inflated his net worth by billions of US dollars to induce banks to lend money to his business on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company and to gain tax benefits, among other things.
Trump and the Trump Organization were said to have “knowingly and intentionally created more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets on his annual Statements of Financial Condition to defraud financial institutions.”
James’ office is seeking to permanently bar Trump and his adult children from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in the state of New York.
It also asks Trump and the Trump Organization to be banned from entering into any New York real estate acquisitions for five years and the disgorgement of all financial benefits obtained through the persistent fraudulent practices, estimated to total 250 million dollars.
Besides, James has referred the matter to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service for criminal investigation.
“For too long, powerful, wealthy people in this country have operated as if the rules do not apply to them,” James, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Trump, a Republican who served as US president from 2017 to 2021, hasn’t responded to the lawsuit but he and his allies have frequently lashed out at James for the inquiry into him and his namesake business.
Last month, Trump attended a deposition at the New York attorney general’s office but declined to answer questions by invoking the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating whether Trump mishandled presidential and government records – some of them allegedly highly classified – when and after leaving office.
Federal agents searched his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida, last month and seized 33 groups of items, including documents bearing classification markings, according to court filings.
Trump has lambasted the Mar-a-Lago “raid” as well as the DOJ probe and denied any wrongdoing.
An independent arbiter, or “special master,” named by a federal judge recently, is reviewing items seized by federal agents in the search of Mar-a-Lago.