Donald Trump allegedly inflated his net worth by as much as $2.2bn in 2014

In 2014, a year before entering politics and two years before winning the White House, Donald Trump inflated his net worth by as much as $2.2bn, lawyers for the attorney general of New York state alleged in court filings recently made public.

Letitia James, a Democrat, is seeking summary judgment in her multimillion-dollar civil suit against the Trump Organization over its financial affairs.

Her office said in the documents: “Mr Trump’s net worth in any year between 2011 and 2021 would be no more than $2.6bn, rather than the stated net worth of up to $6.1bn, and likely considerably less if his properties were actually valued in full-blown professional appraisals.”

According to the state filing, corrections to financial statements for the 10-year period in question would reduce Trump’s stated net worth by “17% [to] 39% in each year, or between $812m to $2.2bn, depending on the year”.

Trial is set for October. James’s lawyers argued no trial was needed “to determine that defendants presented grossly and materially inflated asset values … and then used those … repeatedly in business transactions to defraud banks and insurers”.

James is seeking $250m and for Trump and his sons to be disqualified from running businesses in New York.

Lawyers for Trump were due to file a response.

The former president denies all wrongdoing, claiming political persecution in civil lawsuits concerning his business affairs and a defamation claim arising from a rape allegation as well as over 91 criminal counts regarding election subversion, retention of classified documents and hush-money payments.

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He did not immediately comment on the New York estimation of how much he inflated his net worth. But he has regularly accused James of being motivated by politics, including in a failed countersuit.

Trump’s financial affairs – his taxes and related claims about his personal wealth – became a national obsession in 2016, when he beat Hillary Clinton for the White House. Maggie Haberman, of the New York Times, has reported that Trump made up his excuse for not following convention and releasing his tax returns literally on the fly, on a campaign plane.

Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor then a Trump supporter, reportedly told him there was no legal prohibition against releasing returns under audit. Trump reportedly said he would ask his lawyers, but never proved to have done so.

Christie is now challenging Trump for the presidential nomination next year, as a rank outsider willing to say Trump should never return to the White House. His extreme legal predicament notwithstanding, Trump dominates polling.

Trump never released his taxes but dogged and prize-winning reporting unearthed plentiful evidence of sharp practice. Late last year, Democratic members of the Congress released six years of Trump’s tax returns. Covering 2015 to 2020, they provided plenty of embarrassing information.

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Reporting on proof that Trump and his wife, Melania, “paid $641,931 in federal income taxes in 2015 … $750 in 2016 and 2017, nearly $1m in 2018, $133,445 in 2019 and $0 in 2020”, the Guardian said: “Such numbers reflect heavy business losses and undermine Trump’s self-perpetuated narrative of commercial wealth and success – a crucial part of his brand during his successful 2016 campaign.”


In the filings made public on Wednesday, lawyers for the New York attorney general seemed confident they would win their case.

“Notwithstanding defendants’ horde of 13 experts,” they wrote, “at the end of the day, this is a documents case, and the documents leave no shred of doubt that Mr Trump’s [statements of financial condition] do not even remotely reflect the ‘estimated current value’ of his assets as they would trade between well-informed market participants.”

Among seasoned Trump-watchers, news of the contention that Trump inflated his net worth generated attention but little surprise.

Tim O’Brien, a Bloomberg editor and author of the biography TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald, simply said: “Of course.”