New York probing whether Donald Trump manipulated assets

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York state’s attorney general is investigating whether U.S. President Donald Trump improperly manipulated the value of his assets to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits, and accused his son Eric of being uncooperative in the probe.

The disclosure was made in a filing on Monday with a New York state court in Manhattan, where Attorney General Letitia James wants the Trump Organization, Eric Trump and others to comply with subpoenas her office issued.

James’ lawyers said the subpoenas were issued as part of her “ongoing confidential civil investigation into potential fraud or illegality.” They said there has been no determination regarding whether any laws were broken.

Lawyers for the Trump Organization and Eric Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

James said she began her probe after Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen testified before the U.S. Congress that the president’s financial statements inflated the value of some assets to save money on loans and insurance, and deflated the value of other assets to reduce real estate taxes.

Four properties are being probed, including the 212-acre (85.8 hectares) Seven Springs Estate in northern Westchester County, north of New York City, whose valuations were used to claim an apparent $21.1 million tax deduction for 2015.

Other properties include 40 Wall Street in downtown Manhattan, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, and the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles.

James said Eric Trump, an executive vice president at the Trump Organization, was “intimately involved” in one or more transactions being reviewed, and refused to show up for a scheduled interview pursuant to a subpoena.

While the Trump Organization and others have already produced “significant amounts” of subpoenaed materials, James’ office said the parties are at an impasse over some materials.

“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.”

 

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)

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