According to her office, New York Attorney General Letitia James has extended an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s corporate empire to cover alleged criminal offences.
James’ office had already been investigating the Trump Organization, but only for possible civil offenses. Officials announced the expansion on Tuesday night.
The New York probe started in 2019 and is now collaborating with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which was doing a broad investigation into Trump’s transactions with banks and insurance firms over the ownership of his assets.
James’ office wrote to the Trump Organization recently to notify it that information collected as part of the civil case can now become a criminal investigation.
“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature,” Fabien Levy, a spokesman for James’ office, told CNN.
“We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.”
In February, the United States Supreme Court granted Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. access to eight years of Trump’s tax returns and financial reports as part of a federal probe into alleged tax, insurance, and bank fraud.
Former Trump counsel Michael Cohen testified to Congress in 2019 that Trump overstated the value of his holdings to banks in order to get better loans and insurance, while understating them in order to reduce his tax liabilities. Cohen’s testimony has been central to Vance’s prosecution.
Vance’s report has looked at hush money settlements made to women who appear to have had sexual relationships, as well as tax write-offs received by Trump’s company for millions of dollars in consultancy fees.
In 2019, James won a court win over Trump after a judge ordered the then-president to pay $2 million to settle a federal case alleging that he used his charitable organisation to fund his 2016 presidential campaign.
As part of the investigation, the Trump Foundation decided to dissolve in December 2018.