By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Donald Trump’s namesake company urged a New York judge to reject the state attorney general’s request to appoint a monitor to oversee its financial practices, after he accused it of “shocking ” fraud.
The Trump Organization’s filing Wednesday night is related to Attorney General Letitia James’ civil suit accusing the former US president and three of his adult children of lying to banks and insurers through fraudulent overestimating his assets and net worth.
On October 13, James asked a judge to appoint a watchdog to review the financial information Trump’s company provided to accountants, lenders and insurers, as well as any sales of key assets.
But in Wednesday’s filing, the Trump Organization accused James of creating a “bill of grievances” to justify giving a monitor “staggeringly overbroad” powers to oversee a “highly successful private enterprise,” without proof that the fraud actually occurred.
“What the (attorney general) is really looking for is a vague order justifying his assertion of control by a ‘monitor’ of his political opponent’s business affairs,” wrote Alina Habba, a lawyer for the company and Trump. “Such nationalization efforts are prohibited by the constitution.”
James is a Democrat, while Trump is a Republican.
The defendants also say James lacks standing to sue because the case involves “solely the contractual rights of sophisticated private parties.”
A spokeswoman for James declined to comment Thursday.
The attorney general said a monitor would help serve the “substantial public interest in curbing fraudulent and unlawful conduct.”
In announcing the lawsuit on Sept. 21, James said his investigation uncovered 23 “grossly and fraudulently inflated” assets, including Trump Tower in Manhattan and Mar-a-Lago in Florida, and more than 200 fraudulent asset valuation.
James said the scam went on for at least a decade, and was intended to help save money on loans, insurance and taxes. He is seeking to recover at least $250 million of the alleged improper gains.
While the case does not involve criminal charges, James said Trump has repeatedly violated several state criminal laws and may have violated federal criminal law. He asked US prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service to investigate.
The case is New York v Trump et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 452564/2022.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)