New York: New York Attorney General Letitia James' office on Tuesday (local time) said that it was working alongside the Manhattan District Attorney in an ongoing criminal fraud investigation placing former US President Donald Trump and his family under more pressure.
The move increased the investigative muscle looking into the former president and his family business, reported New York Times. "We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature," Fabien Levy, a spokesman for James, said in a statement. "We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA We have no additional comment at this time."
The two offices have been conducting parallel investigations for more than a year, though the inquiry by the office of New York's Attorney General, Letitia James, has been a civil one, meaning it could result in a lawsuit or fines.
The Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus R Vance Jr, has been conducting a criminal investigation, which could result in charges.
The new development, first reported by CNN, was disclosed after the Attorney General's office wrote to the Trump Organization in recent days notifying it that information collected as part of the civil inquiry could now be used as part of a criminal investigation, reported New York Times.
A lawyer for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though in the past, Trump, a Republican, has attacked both investigations as politically motivated fishing expeditions. Vance and James are both Democrats.
The long-running criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney has focused on an array of potential financial crimes at the Trump Organization, including tax and bank-related fraud.
In particular, the prosecutors are examining whether Trump's company inflated the value of his properties to obtain favorable loans and lowered the values to reduce taxes, reported New York Times.
For months, the district attorney's office has focused on Mr. Trump's long-serving chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, mounting an aggressive effort to gain his cooperation against Trump and the Trump Organization, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
As part of that effort, the district attorney has subpoenaed records from Weisselberg's bank and the private school in Manhattan that his grandchildren have attended.
It is unclear what role James's office will play in that aspect of the investigation. In the collaboration, two assistant attorneys general from James's office are joining the district attorney's team, people with knowledge of the matter said.
But her office will not be conducting its own independent criminal investigation. She is continuing her civil inquiry, which focuses on some of the same strands as the district attorney's sweeping criminal inquiry. Both offices have been investigating some of the same Trump properties, including his Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County.
As part of its inquiry, Vance's office obtained eight years' worth of Trump's tax returns, among other financial records, but only after Trump aggressively fought the effort, resulting in a long-running legal battle that twice reached the US Supreme Court.
Trump is also facing a criminal investigation in Georgia, where the District Attorney in Fulton County is looking into his attempts to reverse the outcome of the presidential election in the state.