Donald Trump and 3 of his children sued for fraud by New York attorney general

Letitia James refers lawsuits to federal agencies for possible criminal prosecution

Donald Trump sits with his children, Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Ivanka Trump. AP
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New York's attorney general on Wednesday announced she is suing former US president Donald Trump and three of his children for fraud, with the aim of getting them barred from ever again doing business in the state.

Attorney General Letitia James told a news conference that she is referring the civil case to federal prosecutors for potential criminal investigations.

“We’re filing a lawsuit against Donald Trump for violating the law as part of his efforts to generate profits for himself, his family, his company,” Ms James said.

“The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us.”

The civil fraud lawsuit alleges that Mr Trump and those involved in the Trump Organisation falsely valued their assets to get favourable loans or tax benefits.

Three of Mr Trump's children — Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — were also named in the lawsuit.

“I never thought this case would be brought,” Mr Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform, while also accusing Ms James of conducting a “get Trump” campaign.

He went on to blame Ms James as a "failed" attorney general causing people to leave New York in a separate post.

Ms James said that her department's three-year investigation found that the accused had submitted more than 200 false valuations on annual financial statements, which then allowed them to get hundreds of millions of dollars in loans.

The probe began after Mr Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen touched on business misconduct while speaking before Congress in 2019.

“We show that they violated several state criminal laws, including falsifying business records, showing false financial statements, insurance fraud and engaging in a conspiracy to commit each of these state law violations,” she said.

The charges are being filed as a civil fraud lawsuit, but Ms James said she will make a criminal referral to the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for possible federal prosecution.

“We believe the conduct alleged in this action also violates federal criminal law, including issuing false statements to financial institutions and bank fraud,” she declared.

It was not immediately known if federal prosecutors or the IRS will open criminal probes.

Ms James said she is asking a New York court to permanently bar the former president and his three children from conducting business in the state.

She is also seeking to bar Mr Trump and the Trump Organisation from making commercial real estate purchases in New York for five years.

The state is also demanding that Mr Trump pay $250 million in penalties.

Allen Weisselberg, former chief financial officer of the Trump Organisation, is also mentioned in the lawsuit.

Mr Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr gave evidence under oath in August.

Updated: September 21, 2022, 5:48 PM
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