New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday said that former United States President Donald Trump often misled banks and insurers by amplifying his net worth and value of assets such as golf courses and hotels, Reuters reported.

“This investigation revealed that Trump engaged in years of illegal conduct to inflate his net worth, to deceive banks and the people of the great state of New York,” James said at a news conference. “Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It’s the art of the steal.”

The lawsuit was filed in state court in Manhattan after a three-year-long investigation by James into Trump and the Trump Organisation. Besides Trump, his three children, Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, are also named as accused in the lawsuit, according to The Associated Press.

In her lawsuit, James claimed that her investigation found at least 200 false and misleading asset valuations by Trump and his organisation, The New York Times reported. These include his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and penthouse apartment atop Manhattan’s Trump Tower.

The democrat urged the court to ban Trump and his three children from conducting business in the state and demanded a penalty of at least $250 million (Rs 20,057 crore), which she said was the estimated worth of benefits the former president has derived from the alleged fraud.

In response, Trump claimed that the lawsuit was “another witch hunt” against him and denounced James as “racist” and “a fraud”.

Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, said the allegations against her client are meritless, according to AP.

“The lawsuit is neither focused on the facts nor the law – rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda,” she said.

On August 10, Trump had refused to answer questions by invoking the Fifth Amendment during James’ investigation into his business dealings.

This was two days after the Federal Bureau of Investigation had searched his Mar-a-Lago estate during their inquiry into whether he took classified records from the White House in 2021.

The FBI on August 12 said that its agents recovered documents marked “top secret” and “sensitive compartmented information” during the search.