NY attorney general accuses Trump of inflating property values by $2.2B

Letitia James asks judge to skip trial, find former president fraudulently overvalued assets

Attorney General Letitia James and Donald Trump (Getty)
Attorney General Letitia James and Donald Trump (Getty)

The New York attorney general has asked a judge to find that former President Donald Trump had overvalued his assets by as much as $2.2 billion.

Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, argues that a trial isn’t needed to find that Trump and other defendants in a civil lawsuit inflated the value of their assets in annual financial statements, fraudulently obtaining favorable loans and insurance deals, the New York Times reported.

The fraud was so pervasive, she said in a court filing, that Trump had falsely boosted his net worth by between $812 million and $2.2 billion a year for a decade.

“Based on the undisputed evidence, no trial is required for the court to determine that defendants presented grossly and materially inflated asset values,” the Wednesday filing said.

James had sued Trump before his four criminal indictments, alleging the former president, his business and members of his family had fraudulently overvalued their assets by billions of dollars.

In October, Trump is scheduled for a civil trial in New York. James seeks to bar him and three of his children from leading the family business, the Trump Organization.

She also wants Trump to pay a $250 million fine.

Trump’s lawyers filed their own motion, arguing that the entire case should be thrown out. They based their argument on a recent appellate court decision that appears to significantly narrow the scope of the case because of a legal time limit.

Trump had taken out most of the loans in question too long ago to be considered by a court, his lawyers argue.

“The appellate division has now limited the reach of the N.Y. A.G.’s crusade against President Trump and his family,” Trump’s lawyers Christopher Kise, Michael Madaio and Clifford Robert wrote.

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Both filings seek a summary judgment, or ruling from the judge that they are entitled to a victory before trial based on undisputed facts in evidence.

James sought that ruling based on the crux of her case — that Trump’s financial statements were fraudulent. If she prevails, it would mark a major victory and smooth her path to a potential win at trial on the rest of the claims.

If Trump wins a summary judgment, the case could become less than what it once appeared, lowering the stakes of the October trial.

Judge Arthur Engoron could also deny both bids for early victory, which would simply set the case for trial, according to the Times. He’s slated to hold a hearing in late September and could rule then. 

The attorney general’s lawsuit disputes the value of some of Trump’s best-known properties, including Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, and Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan.

In her new filing, she wrote that given the way Trump Tower was valued in 2018, it was overvalued by nearly $175 million. The following year, she said, the value of the building was falsely boosted by nearly $323 million.

James also accused Trump of submitting the financial statements to obtain loans for a golf resort outside Miami, a hotel in Washington and a hotel in Chicago.

“At the end of the day this is a documents case,” the filing unsealed on Wednesday said. It added that the documents left no doubt that Trump’s annual financial statements “do not even remotely reflect the ‘estimated current value’ of his assets.”

— Dana Bartholomew

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