Trump suspected of pumping up value of estate, assets

NEW YORK (AP) – New York’s attorney general asked a court on Monday to compel some of United States (US) President Donald Trump’s business associates, including his son, Eric, to testify and turn over documents as part of her investigation into whether the president’s company lied about the value of its assets in order to get loans or tax benefits.

Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, said her civil investigation of potential fraud in Trump’s business dealings, which began last year, has been held up by a lack of cooperation from the president and his family. The petition seeking the court’s intervention was filed after lawyers for Eric Trump abruptly cancelled his planned interview with investigators late last month.

“For months, the Trump Organization has made baseless claims in an effort to shield evidence from a lawful investigation into its financial dealings,” James said in a statement.

“They have stalled, withheld documents, and instructed witnesses, including Eric Trump, to refuse to answer questions under oath. That’s why we’ve filed a motion to compel the Trump Organization to comply with our office’s lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony. These questions will be answered and the truth will be uncovered, because no one is above the law.”

The court petition was made just as the Republican Party was nominating Trump for re-election, and the president’s company immediately dismissed it as a political stunt.

Trump Tower in New York. PHOTO: AFP

“While we have tried to cooperate in good faith with the investigation at every turn, the NYAG’s continued harassment of the company as we approach the election (and filing of this motion on the first day of the Republican National Convention) once again confirms that this investigation is all about politics,” read a statement emailed by Trump Organization Chief Legal Officer Alan Garten.

James’ investigation was launched in March 2019 after Trump’s long-time personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told Congress that Trump had repeatedly inflated the value of his assets to obtain more favourable terms for loans and insurance coverage. While the probe has previously received press attention, Monday’s court filings revealed new details about its focus.

Among other things, it said investigators were looking into how the Trump Organization and its agents assessed the value of Seven Springs, a 212-acre estate north of New York City.