NEW YORK, Nov 8 (Reuters) – When Donald Trump tried to buy a golf course in Florida in 2011, his daughter Ivanka expressed concern that he was not wealthy enough to close the deal, according to evidence presented on Wednesday in a civil fraud trial that threatens the former US president’s business empire.
The emails and other documents were presented as New York lawyers wrapped up their case, which argues that Trump and his company inflated his net worth by as much as $2.2 billion to win better financing terms.
They are seeking more than $250 million in fines and restrictions that could strip Trump of some of his best-known trophy properties.
Ivanka Trump, who testified as the state’s final witness, tried to distance herself from the questionable valuation methods, which have already been ruled fraudulent by the judge overseeing the trial. She acknowledged that she worked on real estate deals for the company, but said she was not involved in calculating Trump’s net worth.
“I generally understood that there was a personal guarantee,” she testified. “This level of granularity was not something I can sit here today and say I remember.”
Ivanka’s testimony ended in the afternoon. Trump’s lawyer Christopher Kise said he would ask Engoron to settle the case in favor of the defense on Thursday, although he is unlikely to succeed.
The lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, accuses Trump and his family companies of manipulating real estate asset values to defraud lenders and insurers and embellish Trump’s reputation as a successful businessman.
Trump has acknowledged on the witness stand that some of the estimates of golf courses, office towers and other corporate assets were inaccurate, though he said many were understated.
Unlike her siblings and father, Ivanka Trump is not a defendant in the case.
As a top executive at the Trump Organization between 2011 and 2017, Ivanka said she focused on redeveloping the Doral golf course in Florida and the Old Post Office property in Washington.
CONCERNS ABOUT TRUMP NET WORTH
At trial, she was shown an email from 2011 in which she acknowledged a requirement by lender Deutsche Bank that her father have a net worth of at least $3 billion was a problem, but urged company officials to approve it Nevertheless.
“We wanted to get a good price and the only way to get the dividend/term and principal where we want them is to guarantee the deal,” she wrote to a Trump Organization lawyer.
The two sides ultimately agreed to set the net worth claim at $2.5 billion, although her father claimed a net worth of $4.3 billion that year.
She was also shown a 2011 email she received from the federal government in which she expressed concern about irregularities in Trump’s accounting when the company proposed redeveloping the old post office, a federal property. Other evidence showed that she profited personally from that deal.
She again said she did not remember details. “There were a lot of emails, a lot of conversations,” she said.
Ivanka’s poised and polite presence on the witness stand contrasted with her brother Eric’s sullen demeanor last week and her father’s defiant and brooding testimony on Monday. Under friendly questioning from her attorney Jesus Suarez, she described Deutsche Bank’s approval of the company’s upgrades to the Doral resort.
“They saw firsthand the extraordinary change in what the asset had become,” she said.
Trump, who is leading his rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination despite a maelstrom of legal problems, has denied wrongdoing and accused James and Judge Arthur Engoron of political bias.
Trump acknowledged on the witness stand that appraisals of his properties were not always accurate, but said the errors were not relevant to the financial institutions that used them to price deals.
His sons Donald Jr. and Eric Trump testified last week that the financial documents at the heart of the case were not their responsibility, even though emails and other documents showed they may have been more involved than their testimony indicated.
Ivanka joined her father during his 2017-2021 term in the White House, leaving her brothers in charge of the company during that period.
James said Ivanka was nonetheless involved in manipulating real estate values.
“She will try to distance herself from the company today, but unfortunately the facts will reveal that she was actually very involved,” James said on the courthouse steps ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.
In a ruling that found Trump, his grown sons and 10 of his companies liable for fraud, Engoron described in stark terms how the defendants made valuations. His ruling could strip Trump of control over some of his best-known properties, although that order is on hold pending appeal.
In addition to this case, Trump is charged in four separate criminal cases, including two stemming from his attempt to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory.
Nevertheless, polls show him holding a commanding lead over Republican rivals to face Biden next year.
Reporting by Jack Queen in New York; Writer Andy Sullivan; Editing by Grant McCool, Daniel Wallis and Alistair Bell
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