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US: Trump's company accused of misleading banks, tax officials

New York State's attorney accused Trump's real estate business of seeking to obtain economic benefits with lenders and tax authorities, by manipulating the value of his properties.

Officials allege that Trump's own penthouse was purposely overvalued by $200 million

Officials allege that Trump's own penthouse was overvalued by $200 million

The former US president's real estate company, the Trump Organization, rejected new allegations of fraud on Wednesday, saying that an investigation by New York authorities was "baseless'' and politically motivated. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James' office said it had uncovered evidence thatDonald Trump's company used "fraudulent or misleading'' valuations of its properties, which include golf clubs and skyscrapers, to get loans and tax benefits.

Officials allege that Trump's company exaggerated the value of its holdings to impress lenders and that it misstated the worth of land donations made in New York and California to reduce its tax burden.

The Trump organization is accused of engaging in the fraudulent activity "to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions," the court papers read.

Trump family fights subpoenas

Among the inflated properties, officials claim Trump's own penthouse in Manhattan's Trump Tower was listed three times higher than it actually was, overestimating its value by $200 million.

James' office is now asking a judge to compel Trump and his two eldest children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to answer questions in the long-running probe. But the family has taken to the courts to have James' subpoenas blocked.

"The Trumps must comply with our lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony because no one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them," James said.

Trump attacks James 

In a statement, the Trump Organization said "the only one misleading the public is Letitia James.''

"She defrauded New Yorkers by basing her entire candidacy on a promise to get Trump at all costs without having seen a shred of evidence and in violation of every conceivable ethical rule,'' the organization's statement read.

Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter that the investigation was "nothing more than political retribution from her on behalf of the entire [Democrat] Party."

The disclosure comes as Trump has stayed in the public eye. At a rally last weekend in the US state of Arizona, he railed against the "monsters that are using law enforcement for political retribution at the local, state and federal level'' and aired an anti-James video highlighting her past anti-Trump statements to his supporters.

jcg/msh (Reuters, AP)

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