Donald Trump sued by New York attorney general over business fraud allegations

Donald Trump and his company is being sued by Letitia James for business fraud. Credit: AP

Donald Trump and his three adult children are being sued by the city of New York’s attorney general, who has alleged business fraud against the former US president and the Trump organisation.

Letitia James’ lawsuit, filed in the state of New York, listed Mr Trump and his three eldest children - Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric Trump - as defendants, along with two longtime company executives, Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney.

The case, which was first revealed in a court document on Wednesday morning, alleges business fraud involving some of the Trumps most prized assets, including properties in Manhattan, Chicago and Washington.

Ms James' office has spent more than three years investigating fraudulent or misleading valuations for Mr Trump's properties on annual financial statements, which were given to potential business partners, banks or tax officials.

Speaking at a press conference, Ms James said: “Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself, and cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us.

“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.”

Ms James is seeking to remove the Trumps from businesses engaged in the alleged fraud.

She wants an independent monitor appointed, for no less than five years, to oversee the Trump organisation’s compliance, financial reporting, valuations and disclosures to lenders, insurers and tax authorities.

Ms James alleged during a press conference that Mr Trump had 'falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars'. Credit: AP

A permanent ban is also being sought against Mr Weisselberg and Mr McConney from serving in the financial control function of any New York corporation or similar business entity, registered or licensed in the state of New York.

Mr Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, said the lawsuit “is neither focused on the facts nor the law - rather, it is solely focused on advancing the attorney general’s political agenda".

“It is abundantly clear that the attorney general’s office has exceeded its statutory authority by prying into transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place," she said.

"We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the attorney general’s meritless claims.”

Eric, Donald Jr and Ivanka Trump (from left to right) have been listed as defendants on Ms James' lawsuit. Credit: AP

In a previous clash with Mr Trump, the attorney general oversaw the closure of his charity, the Trump Foundation, after her predecessor, Barbara Underwood, filed a lawsuit alleging he misused its assets to resolve business disputes and boost his run for the White House.

A judge ordered Mr Trump to pay $2 million (£1.76 million) to an array of charities to settle the matter.

Ms James started scrutinising the former US president's business practices, in March 2019, after his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified to Congress.

He said that Mr Trump exaggerated his wealth on financial statements, provided to Deutsche Bank, when he was trying to obtain financing to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

Since then, Ms James’ office and Mr Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly sparred over the direction of the investigation and Mr Trump’s unwillingness to comply with court summons for his testimony and records.

The latest lawsuit comes amid a swirl of unprecedented legal challenges for a former president, including an FBI investigation into Mr Trump’s handling of classified records and inquiries into his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

While legal matters rumble on behind the scenes Mr Trump has also been laying the groundwork for a potential presidential comeback campaign in 2024.