Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka denied having any involvement in drafting financial statements that allegedly overvalued the former president’s business empire, as she took the stand on Wednesday in the New York attorney-general’s $250mn civil fraud lawsuit.
The 42-year-old, who was sworn in just after 10am in Manhattan state court, is the third of Trump’s children to answer questions under oath in the trial, after her brothers Donald Jr and Eric testified last week.
Wearing a dark suit over a crisp white shirt, Ivanka answered questions about her resume and her former role at the Trump Organization softly and with composure, in stark contrast to the testimony given on Monday by her father, who railed against the judge and New York’s Democratic attorney-general, Letitia James.
Asked by an attorney for the state, Louis Solomon, whether she was involved in compiling a 2011 document in which Trump claimed his net worth was well above $4bn, Ivanka said “not that I am aware of”.
“I’m not involved in his personal finances,” Ivanka added, referring to her father. “I worked at the company”. Numerous times she maintained she could not recall specific discussions, emails or meetings about the Trump Organization’s financial arrangements.
James’s lawsuit accuses members of the family and its entities of lying about the value of real estate holdings to obtain loans on favourable terms.
Shown an email exchange from December 2011 in which she forwarded a loan proposal from Deutsche Bank to executives at the Trump Organization — adding “it doesn’t get better than this, let’s discuss asap” — Ivanka said she thought “generally the deal terms with Deutsche Bank were positive”.
When asked if she was aware that Donald Trump had earlier that year presented his net worth to potential lenders as being above $4bn, Ivanka replied: “no”.
James’s office had previously claimed that Trump’s worth was nowhere near that amount in 2011.
Ivanka, who was originally sued by James’s office alongside her father and two brothers, was removed from the case earlier this year, after an appeals court found the claims against her were “untimely” and past the statute of limitations.
However, the attorney-general reiterated on Wednesday in a post on X, formerly Twitter: “Ivanka was a senior executive at the organization who secured more favorable loans by using Trump’s fraudulent statements of financial condition.”
Under cross-examination, Ivanka said Deutsche Bank had been keen to do business with the family, even scheduling a lunch for Donald Trump with the bank’s then-chief executive, Anshu Jain, on one of his visits to New York.
She added that the German bank was “very happy” to see the “extraordinary change” that took place during the development of the Doral golf property in Florida, which Deutsche had helped to finance.
On Monday, Trump confirmed that his company had paid off the last outstanding loan to Deutsche, and reiterated his assertion that the repayments meant there was no victim in the attorney-general’s case.
Ivanka has stepped back from frontline politics since acting as an adviser to her father in the White House. Trump has denounced the proceedings, and on Monday called them a “disgrace” and suggested James was pursuing the case in order to torpedo his chances of being elected again in 2024.
James, whose office filed the civil suit last year, has already notched up a significant victory against Trump, after the judge ruled ahead of trial that the defendants had indeed committed fraud and inflated the value of their assets by billions of dollars.
The trial will determine the precise penalties to be imposed, which could include a revocation of the Trump family’s business licences in New York.
In her original complaint, James claimed that Ivanka, a Wharton graduate who was an executive vice-president at the Trump Organization until January 2017, had “knowingly participated” in the attempt to grossly exaggerate Donald Trump’s personal fortune by billions of dollars and convey “false and misleading impressions to financial counterparties”.
Lawyers for Ivanka, who left the company when she joined her father’s administration in Washington, argued she had no involvement in “creating or disseminating” statements made to Deutsche Bank by the company, and that in any case, the events in question occurred too long ago for her to be held liable.
Ivanka, who was compelled to testify by subpoena, is expected to be the state’s final witness in the case, which is due to wrap up in December.