By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York state’s attorney general said on Friday that Donald Trump fraudulently inflated his fortune far more than previously thought, her latest salvo in preparation for trial in her civil lawsuit against the former U.S. president and his family business.
In a filing in a New York court in Manhattan, Attorney General Letitia James said her valuation and accounting experts believe Trump improperly increased his net worth by between $1.9 billion and $3.6 billion annually over a decade has increased.
That’s higher than the range of $812 million to $2.23 billion she estimated last week based on what she called “undisputed” evidence — which Trump disputes.
James said a “mountain of evidence” shows how Trump and his associates lied about his assets and net worth to get better terms on loans and insurance, justifying a ruling issued before the Oct. 2 trial that his financial statements were fraudulent goods.
The attorney general wants a $250 million fine and Trump and his sons Donald Trump Jr. and banning Eric Trump from running their family business, the New York City-based Trump Organization.
Lawyers for Trump, who want the entire case dismissed, fired back six minutes after James’ filing.
They said Trump was “unquestionably worth many billions of dollars” and had even made “substantial sums of money” for the companies that financed and insured the properties in his “phenomenal business empire.”
“There was no fraud. There are no victims,” the lawyers said.
Trump’s lawyers also insisted that statutes of limitations bar most of James’ claims, accusing her of “defaming, demeaning and defaming President Trump and his entire family through an opportunistic lawsuit filed for political gain.”
James is a Democrat, while Trump has a dominant lead in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
MAR-A-LAGO, TRUMP TOWER
The judge, Arthur Engoron, has scheduled a hearing for September 22 on both parties’ motions for summary judgment.
His rulings could narrow the scope or, if Trump wins, eliminate the need for a trial, which could last until just before Christmas.
The case is separate from four criminal charges Trump faces, including two for attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four criminal cases.
James’ lawsuit challenges how Trump valued several of his properties, including his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and his triplex penthouse atop Trump Tower in downtown Manhattan.
Quoting her experts, James said Trump was able to increase his wealth by $3.5 billion to $3.6 billion each year between 2014 and 2019, the last three while Trump was in the White House.
Trump’s fortune, as reflected in his financial statements, peaked at $6.1 billion in 2015, 2018 and 2019, James said.
On Wednesday, Engoron rejected Trump’s bid to delay the trial until at least three weeks after he ruled on the summary judgments.
The civil case in New York is New York v. Trump et al., Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, No. 452564/2022.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York)