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Fraud Case Against Trump Will Be Difficult to Prove, Experts Say

Just because the New York attorney general’s investigation into Donald Trump found that he and his company regularly fudged the value of assets on financial statements to banks, insurers and tax authorities doesn’t mean he’ll be hauled off to prison, the Associated Press reports. Lawyers who examined the details of the allegations said that while Attorney General Letitia James could potentially bring a lawsuit alleging fraud, she will face two major hurdles: proving both an intent to deceive and that banks that loaned Trump money were actually fooled. “Were you sloppy, lazy or overoptimistic about your prospects? If you were, that may be bad business, but it doesn’t necessarily rise to fraud,” said Will Thomas, an assistant professor of business law at the University of Michigan.

Intent is difficult to prove with real estate. It is an illiquid asset whose value, unlike publicly traded shares, isn’t being set by different investors constantly buying and selling, but by estimates, and often flawed ones. The attorney general, a Democrat, still has not taken any legal action against Trump in her nearly three-year investigation. In a court filing Tuesday her lawyers argued that there was enough evidence of wrongdoing to demand that Trump and his oldest children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, answer questions under oath. One potential problem for the attorney general is that many of the company’s financial statements included a line warning that the numbers were not audited, a warning that Trump lawyers are sure to highlight.


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