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Trump’s company tricked banks, tax officials: New York AG

NEW YORK – The New York attorney general’s office late Tuesday told a court that its investigators had discovered evidence that US President Donald Trump’s company used asset valuations. “fraudulent or misleading” property to obtain loans and tax benefits.

Court records say state authorities have yet to decide whether to initiate civil action related to the charges, but investigators need to question Trump and his two eldest children as part of the investigation. investigation.

Trump and his lawyers say the investigation is politically motivated.

In court documents, Attorney General Letitia James’ office has given its most detailed accounting yet of its investigation into allegations that Trump’s firm repeatedly misrepresented assets to obtain favorable loan terms or reduced tax burden.

The Trump Organization, it said, overstated the value of land donations made in New York and California on top of paperwork filed with the IRS to justify several million dollar tax deductions.

The company misreported the size of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse, saying it was nearly three times its actual size – a value difference of about $200 million, James’s office said, citing testimony from Trump’s longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who was ultimately charged. years with tax fraud in a parallel criminal investigation.

James’s office detailed its findings in a court petition aimed at forcing Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. comply with subpoenas seeking their testimony.

The investigators, court papers said, had “developed substantial further evidence that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a range of economic benefits.” , including loans, insurance, and tax deductions.”

Messages seeking comment have been left with attorneys for Trump.

Trump’s legal team has sought to block the subpoenas, calling them “an unprecedented and unconstitutional act.” They say James was improperly attempting to obtain testimony that could then be used in a parallel criminal investigation, overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Trump sued James in federal court last month, seeking to end her investigation. In the lawsuit, his lawyers claim the attorney general, a Democrat, violated Republican constitutional rights in a “publicly concealed attempt to publicize malicious intent against Trump and his associates.” his partner.”

In the past, the former Republican president has criticized James’ and Bragg’s investigation as part of a “witch hunt”.

In a statement late Tuesday, James’s office said it has not yet decided whether the evidence outlined in Tuesday’s court papers merits legal action, but that the investigation will proceed without hindrance.

“For more than two years, the Trump Organization has used delay and litigation tactics to thwart a legitimate investigation into its financial dealings,” James said. “To date in our investigation, we have discovered substantial evidence that Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization have mispricing and fraudulently valuing many properties and misrepresenting those values. to financial institutions for economic benefit.”

Although James’ civil investigation is separate from the criminal investigation, her office is involved in both, sending several attorneys to work side-by-side with prosecutors from the Manhattan DA’s office. .

A judge previously sided with James on other issues related to the investigation, including asking another of Trump’s sons, Trump Organization chief executive Eric Trump, to testify. after his attorney abruptly rescinded the scheduled removal order.

Last year, the Manhattan district attorney brought 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 fringe benefits paid to executives.

Both investigations are at least in part related to allegations made in news bulletins and Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, that Trump has a history of perjury on property values.

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