Attorney General Letitia James of New York has filed a $250 Million lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, three of his adult children, and the Trump Organization, alleging they orchestrated an expansive fraud for over a decade that the former President used for personal gain, reports CNN. Two of the organization's executives, Allan Weisselberg and Jeff McConney, are also named in the suit.
Filed on Wednesday in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the more than 200-page lawsuit alleges that Trump’s fraud touched all aspects of the Trump business, including its properties and golf courses. According to the lawsuit, the Trump Organization misled lenders, insurers, and tax authorities by exaggerating the value of his portfolio of properties by using deceptive appraisals.
"We found that Mr, Trump, his children, and the corporation used more than 200 false asset valuations over a ten-year period," James said at a press conference announcing the charges.
The suit claims that Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida estate, and golf resort, was appraised as high as $739 million but should have been valued at around $75 million. The suit also stated that the higher valuation was "based on the false premise that it was unrestricted property and could be developed for residential use even though Mr. Trump himself signed deeds donating his residential development rights and sharply restricting changes to the property."
According to the suit, Trump convinced banks to lend his organization money with favorable interest rates through "persistent and repeated business fraud."
“Mr. Trump made known through Mr. Weisselberg that he wanted his net worth on the statements to increase— a desire Mr. Weisselberg and others carried out year after year in their fraudulent preparation of the statements," the lawsuit said. "The scheme to inflate Mr. Trump's net worth also remained consistent year after year." In a separate case, Weisselberg plead guilty to 15 felony counts ranging from grand larceny to tax fraud to falsifying business records in August,
At the news conference, the Attorney General claimed that there is even more evidence that her office discovered during the investigation.
"The examples I laid out barely scratch the surface," James said Wednesday. "Claiming you have money you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It's the art of the steal."
"The magnitude of financial benefit derived by Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization by means of these fraudulent and misleading submissions was considerable," the suit said.
Trump has vehemently denied the allegations describing the investigation as a politically motivated "witch hunt" and calling James a"racist."
"Today's filing is neither focused on the facts nor the law -- rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General's political agenda," Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a statement on Wednesday. "It is abundantly clear that the Attorney General's Office has exceeded its statutory authority by prying into transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place. We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the Attorney General's meritless claims."
Last month, James rejected a settlement offer from the Trump Organization to resolve the matter.
According to the findings by federal prosecutors, a criminal investigation into bank fraud by Trump and his organization could also be launched.
After the announcement of Wednesday's lawsuit, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg released a statement saying, "Our criminal investigation concerning former President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization, and its leadership is active and ongoing."