The Trump Organisation is under investigation for improperly inflating the “value of Mr Trump’s assets on financial statements in order to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits”, according to the New York attorney general’s office.
New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office claimed Mr Trump originally agreed to participate in a deposition on 22 July, but refused two days prior to the hearing. He said he would use “those rights afforded to every individual under the Constitution” to dodge testifying.
The organisation – including Donald Trump – have been under investigation since 2019. The investigation was prompted by testimony given by Donald Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, who claimed the president’s financial statements intentionally inflated the values of his actual assets for the purposes of securing loans and insurance coverage. He also said Donald Trump deflated the value of some of his assets to avoid paying real estate taxes.
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Though many of the details of the investigation were redacted in the court documents, three Trump-owned properties were mentioned; a golf course in Los Angeles, an office building on Wall Street and a house called “Seven Springs” in Westchester County, New York.
The court filing also mentions a Trump-owned hotel in Chicago, though the nature of its inclusion in the investigation is unknown.
According to CNN, Alan Garten, the chief legal officer for the Trump Organisation, claimed the attorney general’s enquiries were not as significant as they have been portrayed.
“There has been no lawsuit filed by the NY Attorney General,” Mr Garten said. “This is simply a discovery dispute over documents and the like. As the motion papers clearly state, the NY AG has made no determination that anything was improper or that any action is forthcoming. We will respond to this motion as appropriate.”
Mr Garten has tried to paint the investigation as political in nature, calling it “continued harassment” ahead of the 2020 US election.
Ms James’ office noted that it has not reached a conclusion as to whether or not Mr Trump’s company has violated any laws.
This is not the first time Mr Trump has found himself under the scrutiny of the New York attorney general’s office.
Under New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Mr Trump was forced to pay $25m for defrauding students at his “Trump University”.
He was also sued by the attorney general’s office for misuse of funds within his Donald J Trump Foundation. He used the money to buy art for his clubs, to pay off legal debts and to bolster his 2016 presidential campaign. That lawsuit concluded in November, with Mr Trump being forced to pay $2m in damages.