President-elect Donald Trump takes the elevator to the lobby after meeting at Trump Tower in New York City on January 16, 2017.
Dominick Reuter | AFP | Getty Images
The office of the Attorney General of New York, Letitia James, which was already conducting a civil investigation into the company of former President Donald Trump, is now also investigating the Trump organization “in a criminal capacity,” its spokesman said on Tuesday evening.
James’ spokesman implied that her investigation into the criminal investigation into Trump and the Trump Organization is being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, Cyrus Vance Jr.
James’ 2-year civil investigation aimed at allegations that the Trump Organization manipulated the reported value of real estate assets to lower their tax bill and obtain more favorable terms on loans and insurance.
Vance’s office has conducted a criminal investigation into these allegations, first made in Congress by Trump’s former longtime attorney Michael Cohen. Vance’s probe also focuses on other issues.
“We have informed the Trump organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer of a purely civil nature,” said James’ spokesman Fabien Levy.
“We are now actively investigating the Trump organization in a criminal capacity with the Manhattan Attorney’s Office. We have no additional comment at this time,” Levy said.
In late 2019, James scored a legal victory over Trump when a judge ordered him to pay $ 2 million to settle an attorney general’s case for abusing his Trump Foundation, a charity, to aid his 2016 presidential campaign against Others Illegal activity for more than a decade.
The Trump Foundation agreed to liquidate its remaining funds and donate to charity in December 2018, while the AG’s investigation into the foundation continued.
CNBC has made efforts to solicit Trump’s spokesman and the Trump organization for an opinion on the current AG’s criminal investigation.
The former Republican president has described both investigations as witch hunts by two Democratic officials.
James filed an ultimately successful lawsuit last August that forced Trump’s son Eric to answer questions as part of their investigation. Eric Trump heads the Trump Organization with his brother Donald Trump Jr.
Investigators at the AG have reportedly also made a deposit from Allen Weisselberg, the Trump organization’s longtime CFO. Vance’s investigation recently looked into Weisselberg and his two adult sons, one of whom works for the Trump Organization.
One of the real estate holdings that James is known to have an eye on is Seven Springs Estate, a 212 acre property in Westchester County.
The Trump Organization used the Seven Springs valuations to claim an apparent tax deduction of more than $ 21 million by donating a property conservation effort in 2015.
In 2019, the Financial Times found that Trump bought Seven Springs for $ 7.5 million in 1996, but was worth more than $ 290 million in 2012.
Forbes magazine said the property was valued at less than $ 19.5 million in 2014, citing recent home sales as well as local estate agents and appraisers.
James’ office is also investigating ratings of the Trump Building on 40 Wall Street in Manhattan, the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, and the Trump National Golf Club – Los Angeles.
In a statement released in August, James said, “Nothing will stop us from following the facts and the law wherever they lead.”
James at the time accused the Trump organization of stalling requests for information, withholding documents and instructing witnesses under Eric Trump to “refuse to answer questions under oath”.
In February, the US Supreme Court denied a final motion from the former president to prevent Vance investigators from submitting years of tax returns and other financial records from his long-time accountants through a grand jury subpoena.