Former president Donald Trump on Wednesday blamed banks for lending money based on bogus valuations after he was sued for “numerous acts of fraud”.
New York attorney general Letitia James sued the 45th president, his three adult children and a host of companies, organisations and persons associated with his eponymous real estate and licensing business, following a three-year civil investigation into allegations of fraud.
The attorney general claimed Mr Trump and his businesses falsely inflated the value of his net worth by billions of dollars in an effort to gain tax benefits.
Calling it an “art of steal”, Ms James alleged the Trump Organization and its representatives made more than 200 false and misleading evaluations of its assets over a 10-year period.
In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, the former president called the lawsuit a “witch hunt” and argued that banks failed to conduct their own valuations.
“Do you put in a caveat that actually says these are our valuations?” Hannity asked.
“Because I don’t know a lending institution or bank or financial institution that would lend money to anybody and just go by the borrower’s estimation or evaluation of a particular property.”
“We have a disclaimer,” Mr Trump replied.
“My people put it together. I would look at it, and it looked fine. But it’s not overly important. What’s important is the property. I have the best property. What happened, Sean, is we would have a disclaimer right on the front.
“It basically says, you know, get your own people, you’re at your own risk, this was done by management, it wasn’t done by us.”
“So, don’t rely on the statement that you’re getting,” he continued.
“By the way, it goes on for like a page and a half. It’s a very big disclaimer. It’s a very powerful disclaimer.
“It basically says to an institution: ‘You are going to loan money. You have to go out and make sure that you get your own appraisers, your own lawyers, everything’.”
Mr Trump claimed he previously rejected an offer to settle the three-year investigation into whether his real estate company committed tax fraud because paying “even a small amount” would be akin to admitting guilt.
“I met with them. I actually thought they wanted to settle but I didn’t want to settle because how can you even if I paid a very small amount, you sort of admitting guilt.”