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The New York Attorney General’s Lawsuit Against the Trumps and Their Company: Breaking It Down

The Trumps and their company are accused in a 221-page civil lawsuit filed Wednesday of participating in a year-long scheme to enrich themselves by inflating the values ​​of a wide swath of properties, stretching across their international real estate empire. .

The complaint accuses the firm of more than 200 instances of false asset valuations, described as stemming from “factually false assumptions and blatantly inappropriate methodologies with the intent and purpose of falsely and fraudulently inflating Mr. Trump’s net worth to obtain beneficial financial terms from lenders. and insurers”.

“The amount of grossly inflated asset values ​​is staggering and affects most, if not all, real estate holdings in any given year,” New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ office wrote in its complaint. . James said the valuations helped inflate Trump’s net worth “by billions of dollars.”

What were some of the “vastly inflated asset values”?

The state claims that Trump’s triplex apartment in Manhattan was valued based on the claim that it was 30,000 square feet. But it’s actually 10,996 square feet. The former president reported in his 2015 and 2016 financial statements that the Trump Tower apartment was worth $327 million, based on its 30,000 square feet. The Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, admitted to the state attorney general that the value had been overstated by $200 million, “give or take.”

Donald Trump meets with New York Attorney General Letita James for a statement
FILE: People walk in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan on Aug. 10, 2022 in New York City. According to a recent report, the FBI was looking for documents related to nuclear power among other things when they searched Mar-a-Lago.

/ fake images

The New York attorney general’s office also questions the valuation of Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s Florida home. It was valued at up to $739 million, the state said in its lawsuit, based on the idea that the property was unrestricted and could be developed for residential use. However, Trump signed deeds “donating his residential development rights, drastically restricting changes in ownership, and limiting the permissible use of the property to a social club.”

Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump's estate, in Pennsylvania
FILE: Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the estate of former President Donald Trump, in Palm Beach, Florida.

John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

The state’s lawsuit notes that Trump reached an agreement with Palm Beach that said, “that ‘

In addition, the golf club’s revenue, according to the attorney general’s office, was less than $25 million annually, and the state asserts that Mar-a-Lago’s proper valuation was nearly 10 times lower, “closer to $75 million.”

FILE: A general view of 502 Park Avenue, the residence of President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, on July 24, 2020 in New York City.

Yana Paskova/Getty Images

The state also claims that Trump’s company said a dozen rent-stabilized apartments on Trump Park Avenue, also in Manhattan, were listed on corporate documents as worth more than $49.5 million. In fact, the suit says, they had been appraised at a total of $750,000.

Why are Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump named in the lawsuit?

The complaint alleges that Trump’s three children “had knowledge of, responsibility for, and use of” fraudulent statements of financial terms to benefit the company. He claims they oversaw many of the settlements central to the lawsuit.

How much is New York seeking in damages (also known as disgorgement)?

James’ office is seeking $250 million to be turned over to New York State coffers. The lawsuit describes that figure as an estimate of the company’s profits from the alleged scheme.

What other punishments does New York want to impose on Trump and his company?

James’ office is asking a judge to revoke the Trump Organization’s business certificate, effectively barring it from doing business in New York.

His office seeks to permanently bar Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump from serving as officers or directors of any business in New York, including his family’s business.

The state is also seeking a five-year ban on Trump and the company from acquiring New York real estate or taking out loans from any New York-based company.

Can’t the company just re-incorporate outside of New York?

Asked this at a news conference Wednesday, James replied that doing so would not affect his office’s lawsuit, filed while New York was critical to the companies’ operations.

“Mr. Trump, the Trump Organization, as well as his family, will still have to deal with this complaint. They will have to answer,” James said. “They will have to answer the charges there. If he decides to move to Florida, the reality is that he still has to deal with the great state of New York.”

Can Trump or others go to prison for this?

No, at least not directly from Wednesday’s action. James’ office filed suit seeking civil penalties only. However, he said at his news conference that the investigation had uncovered “criminal conduct,” which his office refers to as federal police in the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service.

Did Trump respond?

On his social media site, Trump called James a “failed” attorney general and accused her of taking business out of New York. Goodbye, he wrote her.

Alina Habba, an attorney for Donald Trump, said in a statement to CBS News that “today’s presentation is not focused on the facts or the law, but is solely focused on furthering the Attorney General’s political agenda.”

“It is abundantly clear that the Attorney General’s Office has exceeded its legal authority by meddling in transactions in which there has been absolutely no wrongdoing,” Habba said. “We are confident that our court system will not tolerate this unbridled abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against any and all unsubstantiated claims by the Attorney General.”

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