'Intentional and deliberate fraud': New York AG submits criminal referrals against Donald Trump
Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump are all being sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James in a massive civil lawsuit alleging they and others associated with his businesses “grossly inflated” his assets by “billions” of dollars. In a Wednesday news conference James says she is also referring criminal charges to federal authorities, including the Justice Department and the IRS, and her goal is to prohibit some of Trump’s businesses from operating in New York.
Trump falsely inflated the value of his assets to obtain favorable loan rates and other benefits, and deflated the value of his assets to pay lower taxes, James said Wednesday, after a years-long investigation. She alleges he inflated his net worth “by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us.”
James repeatedly stressed Trump and others many times “pleaded the fifth,” which in civil cases can be seen as a possible sign of guilt, or, in legal terms, “adverse inference.”
James explained how Trump falsely inflated the value of his own New York home.
“Mr. Trump represented that his apartment spanned more than 30,000 sq ft, which was the basis for valuing the apartment,” at Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, she said, as The Guardian reports. “In reality, the apartment had an area of less than 11,000 sq ft, something that Mr. Trump was well aware of. And based on that inflated square footage the value of the apartment in 2015 and 2016 was $327m.”
“To this date, no apartment in New York City has ever sold for close to that amount,” James notes. “Tripling the size of the apartment for purposes of the valuation was intentional and deliberate fraud. Not an honest mistake.”
At one point James said, “we are attempting as part of our relief to dissolve these corporations,” but later corrected herself saying, “that was incorrect. We are not trying to dissolve them – he still has a financial interest in these businesses and corporations,” she noted.
“While James is not seeking to dissolve the organization altogether,” The New York Times’ Benjamin Protess writes, “she is seeking to permanently prohibit some of Trump’s companies from doing business in New York. It’s unclear how much of an impact this would ultimately have on Trump’s operations, but it could be a major blow.”
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