| 24 June 2024, Monday |

Trump dismissive as New York attorney general accuses him of inflating his net worth by $2 billion

Facing off against the New York attorney general who had filed a fraud lawsuit against him, Donald Trump vigorously defended both his real estate business and his time in office during an in-person confrontation. This took place in April, behind closed doors, where he asserted that his company possesses substantial funds. Additionally, he asserted that during his presidency, he averted potential nuclear conflict and thus safeguarded “millions of lives.”
Trump, in testimony made public Wednesday, said it was a “terrible thing” that Attorney General Letitia James was suing him over claims he made on annual financial statements about his net worth and the value of his skyscrapers, golf courses and other assets.

James sued Trump last September, alleging he inflated the value of assets like his Mar-a-Lago estate for at least a decade. Her lawsuit seeks $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York.

In documents filed in support of civil suit, claimed that Trump and some of his associates submitted “grossly inflated” numbers to banks and insurers “to secure and maintain loans and insurance on more favorable terms.”

She said Trump routinely overvalued his net worth by billions of dollars each year between 2011 and 2021..
The scheme resulted in “hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten savings and profits,” the documents alleged.
James’ lawsuit against the current Republican frontrunner in the 2024 presidential race dates back to last year, when she accused Trump, some of his children and the Trump Organization business of tax and financial fraud.
Trump and his children also stand accused of deflating the value of certain Trump Organization assets — including golf clubs, luxury hotels and other properties — to reduce taxes.
The trial is due to start October 2, with a preliminary hearing September 22, though James, a Democrat, is seeking to have the court resolve the case before it goes to trial based on the documents submitted Wednesday.
They allege Trump overstated his wealth each year between 2011 and 2021, including the years he was president, between 17 and 39 percent — amounting to $812 million and $2.2 billion each year.
“Based on the undisputed evidence, no trial is required for the Court to determine that Defendants presented grossly and materially inflated asset values,” to help them conduct “business transactions and defraud banks and insurers,” prosecutors argued.
In January, the Trump Organization was fined $1.6 million by a New York judge in a criminal tax and financial fraud case.
If James’ civil case against Trump goes to trial, it will be one more for the candidate to have to juggle while also zipping across the country on the campaign trail.
Trump is facing four criminal trials for actions allegedly taken before, during and after his presidency — state cases in New York and Georgia and two federal cases in Florida and Washington.

Trump’s defense
Trump’s lawyers released Trump’s 479-page deposition transcript in a flurry of court filings ahead of a Sept. 22 hearing where a judge could resolve part or all of the lawsuit before it goes to trial in October.

Sitting across from James at her Manhattan office on April 13, Trump said, “you don’t have a case and you should drop this case.” Noting his contributions to the city’s skyline, Trump said “it’s a shame” that “now I have to come and justify myself to you.”
Interrogated about the truthfulness of financial statements he gave to banks, Trump repeatedly insisted that, legally speaking, it didn’t matter whether they were accurate or not.
“I have a clause in there that says, ‘Don’t believe the statement. Go out and do your own work.’ This statement is ‘worthless.’ It means nothing,” Trump testified. Given the disclaimer, he said, “you’re supposed to pay no credence to what we say whatsoever.”
In a legal filing Wednesday, James urged Judge Arthur Engoron to grant summary judgment on one of seven claims in her lawsuit — that Trump and his company defrauded lenders, insurers and others by lying about his wealth and the value of his assets.
To rule, Engoron needs only to answer two questions, James’ office argued: whether Trump’s annual financial statements were false or misleading, and whether he and the Trump Organization used those statements while conducting business transactions.
“The answer to both questions is a resounding ‘yes’ based on the mountain of undisputed evidence” in the case, James’ special litigation counsel Andrew Amer said in a 100-page summary judgment motion.
Even if Engoron rules on the fraud claim, he would still preside over a non-jury trial on six other remaining claims in the lawsuit if it is not settled.
Trump’s lawyers are asking Engoron to dismiss the case entirely.
They argue that many of its allegations are barred by a statute of limitations and that James has no standing to sue because the entities Trump supposedly defrauded “have never complained, and indeed have profited from their business dealings” with him.
Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination in next year’s presidential election, has been indicted four times in the last five months — accused in Georgia and Washington, D.C., of plotting to overturn his 2020 election loss, in Florida of hoarding classified documents, and in Manhattan of falsifying business records related to hush money paid on his behalf. Some of Trump’s criminal trials are scheduled to overlap with the presidential primary season.
Trump testified that he only had the financial statements made so he could see a list of his many properties and said he “never felt that these statements would be taken very seriously,” but that financial institutions would occasionally ask for them. Some of the values listed were based on “guesstimates,” he conceded.
Trump answered questions with such verbosity at the April deposition — veering from evasiveness to bluster to filibuster at times — that one lawyer worried his seven hours of sworn testimony could go until midnight.
It was a reversal from a deposition last year, before James filed her lawsuit, in which Trump refused to answer all but a few procedural questions. At that earlier deposition, Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination more than 400 times.
Trump testified in April that his company, the Trump Organization, has over $400 million in cash. He claimed Mar-a-Lago is worth $1.5 billion and a golf course he owns near Miami is worth $2 billion or $2.5 billion. He said he believes he could sell another golf course he owns in Scotland to the Saudi-backed LIV golf league “for a fortune.”
“Do you know the banks were fully paid? Do you know the banks made a lot of money?” Trump testified. “Do you know I don’t believe I ever got even a default notice, and even during COVID, the banks were all paid? And yet you’re suing on behalf of banks, I guess. It’s crazy. The whole case is crazy.”
Trump is not expected to testify in court if the case goes to trial, but video recordings of his depositions could be played.
In his deposition, Trump testified that once he became president, he stopped paying much attention to his business because he needed to focus on world affairs.
“I think you would have nuclear holocaust if I didn’t deal with North Korea,” Trump testified. “I think you would have a nuclear war, if I weren’t elected. And I think you might have a nuclear war now, if you want to know the truth.”

  • Arab News