New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a fraud lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and his children, claiming that they vastly overstated the value of their properties and used the inflated valuations to fraudulently get more credit for his business.
The state is seeking a $250 million judgment in the suit, which it says is the amount of lost benefit to the city. James is also asking for Trump’s to be banned from leading any business or purchasing property in New York for five years.
The suit includes Donald Trump, children Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric Trump, and Trump Organization executives Allan Weisselberg and Jeff McConney.
The suit alleges that Trump’s Mar-A-Lago estate and the golf club was valued at $739 when it should have been valued at around $75 million.
Another allegation is that Trump lied that his Fifth Avenue apartment in the city was 30,000 square feet and was worth $327 million, more than any apartment in the city was ever sold for. James says that apartment is actually only 10,000 square feet, which would value it much lower than Trump’s estimate.
Although Trump and his associates inflated the property values, the suit said, they also undervalued them for tax purposes.
“Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It’s the art of the steal,” she said in a reference to Trump’s 1987 book, The Art of the Deal.
It’s unclear why the suit would include a Florida property and a golf resort in Scotland when it should be limited to New York state.
In addition, Trump said that his organization very clearly put a disclaimer on all of its valuations warning banks to get their own appraisals done, according to the Associated Press.
“We have a disclaimer right on the front,” he said, that warned banks: ”‘You’re at your own risk.’ … ‘Be careful because it may not be accurate. It may be way off.’ … ‘Get your own people. Use your own appraisers. Use your own lawyers. Don’t rely on us.’”
Trump lawyer Alina Habba called the allegations “meritless” said and the lawsuit “is neither focused on the facts nor the law — rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda.”
In a recent deposition, Trump mostly refused to answer questions because he fears criminal prosecution, which James said could occur if prosecutors decide to pursue them. The fact that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg recently disbanded a grand jury without bringing charges, however, suggests that prosecution may not be likely.