NY attorney general investigates whether Trump overvalued estate

AG James has asked a New York court to enforce subpoenas for an investigation into Trump’s possibly-inflated assets.

New York State Attorney General, Letitia James
New York State Attorney General Letitia James is trying to compel Eric Trump, the son of the US president, to testify as her office investigates claims the family inflated assets to get loans [Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

New York’s Democratic attorney general asked a court on Monday to enforce subpoenas into an investigation into whether President Donald Trump and his businesses inflated assets on financial statements.

Attorney General Letitia James filed a petition in state trial court in New York City naming the Trump Organization, an umbrella group for the Republican president’s holdings, as a respondent along with other business entities. The filing also named Eric Trump and Seven Springs, a New York estate owned by the Trump family.

The attorney general said Eric Trump, president of Seven Springs and vice president of the organisation, should be compelled to testify.

James’s lawyers said the subpoenas were issued as part of her “ongoing confidential civil investigation into potential fraud or illegality”, Reuters news agency reported.

They said there has been no determination regarding whether any laws were broken.

The investigation centres on whether Trump Organization and the president improperly inflated the value of assets to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits. Investigators are looking into whether the Trump Organization and its agents improperly inflated the value of the Seven Springs north of the city.

In the court filings, the attorney general’s office wrote that “information regarding the valuation of Seven Springs is significant” to the office’s investigation.

The investigation was launched in March 2019 after Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump had inflated the value of his assets to obtain more favourable terms for loans and insurance coverage.

Since then, the attorney general’s office has issued “a number of subpoenas and has taken testimony seeking information material to these matters”, the court filing said. Investigators have not yet determined whether the law was broken.

“For months, the Trump Organization has made baseless claims in an effort to shield evidence from a lawful investigation into its financial dealings,” James said in a statement. “They have stalled, withheld documents, and instructed witnesses, including Eric Trump, to refuse to answer questions under oath.”

Emails seeking comment were sent to lawyers for the Trump Organization and Eric Trump by The Associated Press news agency.

James’s office issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization and to Seven Springs LLC in December 2019, seeking financial documents, the filing said. Since then, both have “engaged in extensive good-faith discussions concerning the Trump Organization’s compliance with the subpoenas”.

The attorney general’s office is also attempting to collect information about several other Trump-related properties, including the Trump National Golf Club near Los Angeles, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago and an office building on Wall Street in Manhattan where the Trump Organization “owns a ‘ground lease’ pertaining to the property”.

Source: News Agencies