On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against former U.S. President Donald Trump for alleged financial fraud.
DOJ and Trump With Nominees To Oversee Mar-a-Lago Archives
James accused Trump, the Trump Organization, senior management, and involved entities of "engaging in years of financial fraud to obtain a host of economic benefits."
The civil lawsuit alleged Trump, with the help of his three adult children and senior executives at the Trump Organization, falsely inflated his net worth by billions of U.S. dollars to induce banks to lend money to his business on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company and to gain tax benefits, among other things.
Trump and the Trump Organization were said to have "knowingly and intentionally created more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets on his annual Statements of Financial Condition to defraud financial institutions."
James' office is seeking to permanently bar Trump and his adult children from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in the state of New York.
It also asks Trump and the Trump Organization to be banned from entering into any New York real estate acquisitions for five years and the disgorgement of all financial benefits obtained through the persistent fraudulent practices, estimated to total US$250 million.
"For too long, powerful, wealthy people in this country have operated as if the rules do not apply to them," said James, who referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service for criminal investigation.
Trump hasn't responded to the lawsuit but he and his allies have frequently lashed out at James for the inquiry into him and his namesake business. Last month, the former President attended a deposition at the New York attorney general's office but declined to answer questions by invoking the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether Trump mishandled presidential and government records -- some of them allegedly highly classified -- when and after leaving office. Federal agents searched his Mar-a-Lago residence last month and seized 33 groups of items, including documents bearing classification markings, according to court filings.
Trump has lambasted the Mar-a-Lago "raid" as well as the DOJ probe and denied any wrongdoing. An independent arbiter, or "special master," named by a federal judge recently, is reviewing items seized by federal agents in the search of Mar-a-Lago.