The New York attorney-general is investigating whether the Trump Organization and Donald Trump misrepresented the value of real estate assets in financial documents to secure better loan terms, lower tax bills and other economic benefits.

The investigation was disclosed in a court filing on Monday after Eric Trump, the president’s second son, refused to appear for a scheduled deposition on July 22, according to the attorney-general, who is seeking to compel his co-operation into the probe.

The move opens a new front in a battle by New York authorities to obtain financial information about the president’s businesses. After moving into the White House, Mr Trump handed day-to-day operation of the Trump Organization to his eldest sons, Donald Jr and Eric.

The Trump Organization has “stalled, withheld documents, and instructed witnesses, including Eric Trump, to refuse to answer questions under oath”, said New York attorney-general Letitia James.

A Trump Organization spokesperson said in response that it had “tried to co-operate in good faith” and accused the attorney-general of “harassment.” The statement added that the “filing of this motion on the first day of the Republican National Convention . . . once again confirms that this investigation is all about politics”.

The attorney-general’s office began its investigation into Mr Trump’s businesses last year after his former lawyer Michael Cohen testified in Congress that the president was “a cheat” who “inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes”.

The attorney-general’s office has been focusing on annual “statements of financial condition,” which were prepared by Mr Trump’s accounting firm Mazars using information provided by his company, and which state the president’s “net worth”.

The statements were submitted to various financial institutions, according to the attorney-general’s office. The filing said the investigation was continuing and that no determination had yet been made about whether laws were violated.

In addition to testimony from Eric Trump, Monday’s filing sought records connected to four Trump properties, among them a neo-gothic skyscraper at 40 Wall Street on which the Trump Organization refinanced a $160m loan in 2015.

Another property covered by the request is the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, where lenders forgave “large portions of the debt” that were owed on the property, but the attorney-general “has been unable to confirm” that the loan write-offs were declared as taxable income, as required.

The refusal to testify by Eric Trump, who serves as executive vice-president of his father’s company, marks the latest instance in which the president’s representatives have sought to shield his financial information from scrutiny by New York authorities.

Earlier on Monday, New York City district attorney Cyrus Vance said he would wait for a federal appeals court to rule before enforcing a subpoena seeking eight years of Mr Trump’s personal tax records from Mazars.


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