New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference regarding former US President Donald Trump and his family’s financial fraud case on September 21, 2022 in New York.
Yuki Iwamura | AFP | Getty Images
New York Attorney General Letitia James said Wednesday her office believes it has uncovered federal crimes by former President Donald Trump and others, including bank fraud and lying to financial institutions.
James said her office has sent a criminal referral to federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the IRS.
The revelation of possible federal crimes by the former president came as James announced a civil lawsuit accusing Trump, three of his adult children and some of his longtime business associates of submitting years of fraudulent financial statements in order to achieve various financial benefits.
“We believe the conduct alleged in this action also violates federal criminal law,” James said, “including issuing false statements to financial institutions and bank fraud.”
“We are referring those criminal violations that we have uncovered to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the Internal Revenue Service,” James said at a press conference.
The 220-page civil lawsuit, filed earlier Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, seeks at least $250 million in damages. It seeks to permanently bar Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump from serving as an officer of a company in New York, and permanently prohibit the Trump companies named in the suit from doing business in the state.
The defendants “repeatedly and persistently manipulated the value of assets to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms” than would have otherwise been available, James said Wednesday morning. They did this “to pay lower taxes,” as well as satisfy loan agreements and get insurance companies to agree to more beneficial terms, James said.
The seven causes of action listed in the complaint — persistent and repeated fraud, falsifying business records, conspiracy to falsify business records, issuing false financial statements, conspiracy to falsify false financial statements, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud — all fall under the New York penal code.
“We are aware of the New York Attorney General’s referral, and beyond that decline to comment further,” a spokesman for the Manhattan federal prosecutors’ office told NBC News.
Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, in a statement Wednesday accused James of filing the civil lawsuit to advance her “political agenda.”
“It is abundantly clear that the Attorney General’s Office has exceeded its statutory authority by prying into transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place,” Habba said.
“We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the Attorney General’s meritless claims,” she said.