Eric Trump has told a court he relied on accountants to ensure the accuracy of financial statements that authorities say fraudulently exaggerated his father’s wealth and the value of his assets to deceive banks and insurers.
In the witness box for a second day in the civil fraud case brought by New York attorney general Letitia James, the witness was pressed about what steps he took to verify information before signing documents certifying to lender Deutsche Bank that his father’s financial statements were correct.
He insisted he would never sign something that was inaccurate.
“I relied on one of the biggest accounting firms in the country. And I relied on a great legal team. And when they gave me comfort that the statement was perfect, I was more than happy to execute,” he said.
Eric Trump’s comments echoed those of his brother, Donald Trump Jr, whose evidence earlier this week appeared to be laying groundwork to blame any irregularities in the financial statements on the Trump Organisation’s long-time external accountant Donald Bender.
Mr Trump Jr told the court that the company “relied heavily on” Bender as “a point person for just about anything we did, accounting-wise”.
Ms James’s lawsuit alleges that Donald Trump, his company and senior executives, including Eric and Donald Jr, conspired to exaggerate his wealth by billions of dollars on his financial statements. The documents were given to banks, insurers and others to secure loans and make deals.
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Eric Trump called the case a “charade” and waste of taxpayers’ money, adding: “We’re going to win this thing. I promise you we’re going to win it because we haven’t done a damn thing wrong.”
Another executive of his father’s company told the court that Eric Trump was on a video call about his father’s financial statement as recently as 2021. The family and company were aware by then that Ms James’s office was looking into the statements. But Eric Trump reiterated on Friday that he had no memory of the call.
“I get thousands of calls,” he said, adding that he picks up his phone at 5am and puts it down at midnight.
Earlier in the trial, appraiser David McArdle said Eric Trump took an active interest a decade ago in appraisals of some Trump-owned properties, including a golf course where the family envisioned 71 high-end town houses in New York’s suburban Westchester County.
In an email at the time, Mr McArdle said that “Eric Trump has lofty ideas on value”, assuming the town houses would easily sell for 1,000 dollars per square foot.
The Trump son has said that he barely remembers Mr McArdle, but added: “I think a thousand dollars per square foot would absolutely be achievable, yes.”
The villas were never built.
Donald Trump and other defendants — including Donald Jr and Eric — deny any wrongdoing. The former president has called the case a “sham”, a “scam” and “a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time”.
The civil lawsuit is separate from four criminal cases the former president is facing while he campaigns to retake the White House next year.
The former president is expected to follow his sons into the witness box on Monday. His daughter Ivanka is also scheduled to give evidence next week after an appeals court late on Thursday denied her request to delay her evidence.