The New York attorney general’s office said on Tuesday it had opened a criminal investigation into the company of former President Donald Trump, increasing the legal risk to Trump and his family.
Attorney General Letitia James has investigated whether the Trump organization falsely declared property values to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.
The latest announcement marked a further escalation in the legal danger Trump faces four months after leaving office, bringing the number of known criminal investigations of the former Republican president to three.
“We have informed the Trump organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer of a purely civilian nature,” Fabien Levy, spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, said in a statement.
“We are currently actively investigating the Trump organization on a criminal basis, with the Manhattan District Attorney,” he said.
The Trump Organization, the former president’s family business, could not be reached immediately for comment. Trump said the investigation overseen by James, a Democrat, was politically motivated.
James investigated whether the Trump organization had inflated the value of some properties to get better loans, and lowered their value to get property tax breaks.
Separately, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has been investigating Trump’s business dealings prior to the presidency for more than two years.
Vance’s office said in court documents it was investigating “potentially widespread and prolonged criminal conduct” within the Trump organization, including tax and insurance evasion and the falsification of business records.
In February, prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s attempts to influence the results of the 2020 state election, after being recorded during a January 2 phone call. pressuring the Georgian Secretary of State to overturn the result of the vote on the basis of unfounded. allegations of tampering.
Vance’s investigation began after former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen paid silent money to silence two women ahead of the 2016 election over extramarital sex they claimed to have had with Trump.
James said she opened her investigation after Cohen testified before Congress that Trump’s financial statements were manipulated to save money on loans or lower his property taxes.
Cohen, who once said he would take a bullet for Trump, pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations and other crimes and is currently serving his three-year sentence in house arrest.
“As more and more documents are reviewed by the NYAG and NYDA, it looks like Donald Trump’s problems keep coming! Soon Donald and Associates will be held accountable for their actions,” Cohen said in a text message. to Reuters on Tuesday. night.
Two people familiar with Vance’s investigation told Reuters that Cohen was questioned by district attorney investigators.
Court records show that the investigations of the New York attorney general and the Manhattan district attorney, while separate from each other, overlap.
Both examine how the Trump organization and its agents assessed the value of Seven Springs, a 212-acre estate in upper Manhattan that Trump bought in 1995. Trump’s company said the 50,000-square-foot century-old mansion on the land was used as a Trump family retreat.
Trump’s ambitions to build a championship golf course there were derailed by local opposition and he put aside another plan to build luxury homes.
But property has become a vehicle for tax relief, according to property records and court records. In 2015, he signed a conservation easement – an agreement not to develop the property – covering 158 acres.
The attorney general’s office said in a court file that an appraiser hired by Trump before the conservation agreement valued the property at $ 56.5 million and the value of the easement at $ 21.1 million. dollars – an amount Trump claimed as an income tax deduction.
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