Trump pays $110,000 fine for failure to cooperate with NY probe

New York state is investigating former US president’s real estate company for allegedly misstating value of assets.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally to boost Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, ahead of the May 17 primary election at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
Former US President Donald Trump, toying with a potential comeback bid in 2024, has remained active in US politics [Hannah Beier/Reuters]

Former US President Donald Trump has paid a $110,000 fine for his failure to respond to a subpoena in a civil investigation into his business practices, a spokesperson for the New York attorney general said on Friday.

Trump paid the fine on Thursday but must still submit additional paperwork in order to have the contempt order lifted, the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James said.

The payment of the fine was one of three steps Trump needed to take for a judge to lift a contempt of court order issued last month for his lack of cooperation with New York’s probe.

The investigation is looking into whether the Trump Organization gave banks and tax authorities misleading financial information.

In late April, New York state Judge Arthur Engoron held Trump in contempt and fined him $10,000 per day after ruling it was not clear whether the former president had conducted a complete search for additional documents that James had requested.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a news conference.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James is seeking to compel Trump to testify and release documents in a civil probe of his real estate business [File: Kathy Willens/AP Photo]

Engoron conditionally lifted the contempt order and the fine stopped accruing last week after Trump submitted details of his search for records. But Engoron said he would start fining Trump again if he did not pay by May 20.

The judge required that a third-party firm hired by Trump to aid in the search, HaystackID, finish going through 17 boxes kept in off-site storage, and turn over any relevant documents with a report on its findings. That process was completed on Thursday, James’s office said.

Trump employees must still submit affidavits on his practices for handling records, the New York spokesperson said. The fine money will be held in escrow until a higher court weighs in on Trump’s appeal of the contempt order.

Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Reuters news agency.

Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen had told Congress in 2019 that Trump’s organisation misstated its asset values for financial gain.

James has said her three-year civil probe has found evidence that Trump’s company – which manages hotels, golf courses and other real estate – misstated asset valuations to get favourable loans and tax breaks.

Trump has denied the allegations. He has called James’s investigation “racist” and a politically motivated “witch hunt” while Trump’s lawyers have accused her of selective prosecution. Trump is also suing James in federal court, seeking to shut down her probe.

Last week, a lawyer for James’s office said that evidence found in the probe could support legal action against the former president, his company, or both.

The lawyer, Andrew Amer, said at a hearing in Trump’s lawsuit against James that “there’s clearly been a substantial amount of evidence amassed that could support the filing of an enforcement proceeding”, although a final determination on filing such an action has not been made.

James has subpoenaed Trump and his two eldest children, Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump, as part of the investigation into the former US president’s business practices.

A New York court filing made public in January said James issued the subpoenas seeking testimony and documents from the trio “in connection with an investigation into the valuation of properties owned or controlled” by Trump or his company, the Trump Organization.

Source: News Agencies