Trump investigated in ‘criminal capacity’ as inquiry into finances ‘no longer civil’

US

An investigation of Donald Trump being carried out by the state of New York’s attorney general is now a criminal inquiry.

A spokesperson for attorney general Letitia James said: “We have informed The Trump Organization that our investigation into the organisation is no longer purely civil in nature.

“We are now actively investigating The Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan district attorney.”

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is heading up the inquiry into Mr Trump
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New York state attorney general Letitia James is heading up the inquiry into Mr Trump

The inquiry led by Ms James – a Democrat – has previously been branded a “witch hunt” by the Republican former president, who is yet to comment on the latest development.

Ms James has been looking into whether The Trump Organization falsely reported property values to get loans and receive tax and economic benefits.

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This included inflating the value of some assets to secure higher lending, and undervaluing other properties in order to get tax breaks.

Among the properties being queried are Mr Trump’s estate north of Manhattan, a Trump office building in New York City, a hotel in Chicago and a Los Angeles golf course.

One of the properties in New York State which is part of the investigations. Pic: Associated Press
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One of the properties in the state of New York which is part of the investigations. Pic: AP

The separate investigation being carried out by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance – also a Democrat – is looking into Mr Trump’s business dealings from before he was elected to the White House.

It has been under way for more than two years and is said to be probing “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct” at The Trump Organization.

The exact nature of the Manhattan district attorney’s inquiry is not known due to US grand jury rules.

But following a multi-year legal wrangle over the former president’s tax returns, it is now known that Mr Vance is looking into possible tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of documents.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Pic: Associated Press
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Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance. Pic: AP

Mr Vance’s investigation started after Mr Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen allegedly paid two women to be silent about claimed sexual relationships with Mr Tump in the run up to the 2017 presidential election.

Mr Vance has sought evidence from the former daughter-in-law of The Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, into how Trump employees were compensated.

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