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Ivanka Trump testifies she had no role in dad’s net worth claims

NEW YORK – Ivanka Trump testified she had no role in preparing her father Donald Trump’s financial statements and was not aware that he was claiming a net worth of more than US$4 billion (S$5.4 billion) as she was trying to get a Trump Organization loan for the Doral golf club in Florida.

“I am not involved in his personal financial statements,” the former president’s elder daughter said on the witness stand on Wednesday in the civil fraud trial against Donald Trump and his real estate company, which the state accuses of inflating assets.

The state alleged Donald Trump had just US$1.6 billion in assets in 2011, when he claimed a net worth of US$4.3 billion.

Deutsche Bank agreed to a US$130 million loan for Doral in 2011 that was personally guaranteed by Trump, according to records displayed in court. The terms originally required he maintain a net worth of US$3 billion, but Ivanka Trump negotiated a reduction to US$2.5 billion, she told Justice Arthur Engoron.  

Testimony by Ivanka Trump, who worked at the Trump Organization until 2017, so far has not shown she was involved in preparing her father’s annual statements of financial condition, which are at the centre of the case.

But her answers, and the documents displayed to her on the witness stand, show she was deeply aware of the importance of her father’s net worth in securing the best terms possible on loans for key assets.

Ivanka Trump said she was pleased with the terms she got on the Doral loan. “It doesn’t get better than this. Let’s discuss ASAP,” she said at the time, in an internal Trump Organization email that was entered into evidence.

The trial, over a lawsuit filed last year by New York Attorney-General Letitia James, is one of six Donald Trump is facing as he seeks to return to the White House. He is accused of inflating his assets by as much as US$3.6 billion a year to get better terms on loans and insurance, reaping US$250 million in “illegal profit.”

At stake is the future of the family real estate business that brought Trump wealth, fame and power. 

Ivanka Trump’s role

Ivanka Trump, 42, is the final state witness in the trial, now in its sixth week. Her father took the stand on Monday, using his time under oath to blast Ms James as a “political hack” and accuse the judge of bias.

In combative and sometimes rambling testimony, he denied overvaluing assets in his annual statements of financial condition and said the banks and insurers he did business with were free to do their own valuations.

His daughter, who was an executive vice-president at his sprawling real estate company until early 2017, was initially sued alongside her father and brothers Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump. An appeals court this year dismissed her from the case, ruling the claims related to her alleged conduct were too old.

Trump’s three eldest children were called by the state as witnesses to explore in court how Donald Trump’s allegedly inflated financial statements were used to secure financing for key Trump Organization assets. 

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Ms James is asking Justice Engoron, who will decide the case without a jury, to make Trump and his elder sons pay back the quarter billion dollars and bar them from running a company in the state. The judge has already found Trump liable for fraud. The trial is over the remaining claims, including issuing false financial statements and conspiring to falsify business records, and will determine the penalties. 

Despite her dismissal from the case as a defendant, the state issued a subpoena for Ivanka Trump’s testimony. In her unsuccessful challenge, her lawyer argued the subpoena was a form of “harassment” to bypass her dismissal from the suit, and that she no longer had sufficient ties to New York for the state court to exercise jurisdiction over her.

‘Personal knowledge’

Ms James’ team contended that her testimony was vital to the case because she “indisputably has personal knowledge of facts relevant to the claims” and is “financially and professionally intertwined with the Trump Organization,” even though she currently lives in Florida and is no longer an executive.

Ivanka Trump’s responsibilities at the Manhattan-based Trump Organization included securing leases and financing. The state claimed in its complaint that she was complicit in the alleged scheme led by her father because she used his inflated statements of financial condition to arrange loans from Deutsche Bank AG for properties including his luxury hotel in Washington.

Her brothers testified last week, denying any role in the creation of the annual financial documents at the centre of the case. They said they relied on accountants to make sure the figures were accurate, and brushed off questions suggesting they played a part in allegedly overvaluing the assets. BLOOMBERG

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