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Entornointeligente.com / Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating whether the Trump Organization falsely reported property values to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits. US President Donald Trump in the White House in Washington, DC, on December 7, 2020. (AFP) The Trump Organization is being investigated in a criminal capacity by the New York state attorney general's office.

A spokesman said Tuesday that prosecutors advance their probe into former president Donald Trump's business dealings.

“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature,” a spokesman for Attorney General Letitia James' office said.

“We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA,” spokesman Fabien Levy said.

The organisation is the holding company of hundreds of Trump entities, ranging from hotels to golf courses.

'Greatest political witch hunt'

Trump, who left the White House in January, denies wrongdoing and has previously described the investigation into his finances by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat, as “a continuation of the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country.”

James' office has meanwhile also been investigating allegations of bank fraud and insurance fraud through civil proceedings.

Bolstering its legal team, the Trump Organization in early April hired a veteran criminal defence attorney, 84-year-old Ronald Fischetti.

The district attorney's investigation initially focused on hush payments made to two women who allege they had affairs with Trump, but had expanded to allegations of tax evasion, and insurance and bank fraud.

That investigation is being carried out behind closed doors in front of a grand jury, and appeared to be progressing with Vance's team receiving eight years of Trump's tax returns in March.

READ MORE: Trump says probe of his ex-attorney 'very, very unfair'

Attempts to influence election result 

In February, prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, opened a criminal investigation into Trump's attempts to influence the state's 2020 election results, after he was recorded in a January 2 phone call pressuring Georgia's secretary of state to overturn the outcome of voting based on unfounded claims of tampering.

Vance's probe began after Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen paid hush money to silence two women before the 2016 election about extramarit al sexual encounters they claimed to have had with Trump.

James has said she opened her inquiry after Cohen testified before Congress that Trump's financial statements were manipulated to save money on loans or reduce his real estate 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 under home confinement.

READ MORE:  Where is Donald Trump?

Tax break

“As more documents are reviewed by the NYAG and NYDA, it appears that the troubles for Donald Trump just k eep on coming! Soon enough, Donald and Associates will be held responsible for their actions,” Cohen said in a text message to Reuters on Tuesday night.

Two people familiar with Vance's probe have told Reuters that Cohen has been interviewed by the district attorney's investigators.

Court records show that the New York attorney general and Manhattan district attorney investigations, while separate from one another, do overlap.

Both are examining how the Trump Organization and its agents assessed the value of Seven Springs, a 212-acre estate north of Manhattan that Trump purchased in 1995.

Trump’s company has said the century-old, 50,000-square-foot mansion on the grounds was used as a Trump family retreat.

Trump’s ambitions to build a championship golf course there were derailed by local opposition, and he shelved another plan to build luxury homes.

But the property did become a vehicle for a tax break, according to property records and court filings. 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 filing that an apprai ser hired by Trump before the conservation agreement set the property’s value at $56.5 million and the easement’s value at $21.1 million – an amount Trump claimed as an income tax deduction. 

Six months after losing the US presidential election, millions of Republicans still look to Trump as their leader, despite his repeat baseless claims that President Joe Biden prevailed because of fraud.

READ MORE:  Biden accelerates refugee admissions but stops short of lifting Trump cap

Source: AFP

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