Trump’s embattled foundation to shut down

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Trump’s embattled foundation to shut down

Donald Trump along with his children Eric(L), Ivanka and Donald Jr (file photo)Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

Mr Trump and his three eldest children are accused of using it for private and political gain

US President Donald Trump’s troubled charity foundation has agreed to close down amid allegations that he and others illegally misused its funds.

The move was announced by the Attorney General of New York State, Barbara Underwood, who will supervise the distribution of its remaining monies.

She has accused Mr Trump and his three eldest children of using it for private and political gain.

The foundation has previously denied the charges.

This is just one of several legal cases currently swirling around Mr Trump and his family. Others include a wide-ranging special counsel investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia headed by former FBI chief Robert Mueller.

What do the prosecution say?

Ms Underwood said the case against Mr Trump and his children Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric would continue.

In a statement, she said there had been “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation – including unlawful co-ordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and wilful self-dealing, and much more”.

She continued: “This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a chequebook to serve Mr Trump’s business and political interests.”

Under the terms of the deal to shut down the foundation, Ms Underwood said, it could only be dissolved under judicial supervision and could only distribute its assets “to reputable organisations approved by my office”.

She added: “This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone.

“We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.”

And the Trumps?

Mr Trump and his eldest children have yet to comment.

The foundation had previously said the charges were politically motivated and accused the attorney general of holding its $1.7m in remaining funds “hostage for political gain”.

Only last June Mr Trump indicated on Twitter that he was not willing to settle the case, insisting the foundation had done nothing wrong.

How did this come about?

The state’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation was announced over the summer after a two-year investigation which began under previous New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

In October 2016 Mr Schneiderman ordered the Trump Foundation to stop fundraising in New York, after finding it had no proper registration.

President-elect Trump vowed to shut the charitable foundation down in December 2016, to avoid “even the appearance” of any conflict of interest.

What are the specific allegations?

A 41-page document filed with the New York Supreme Court by the attorney general’s office spells out a range of alleged violations of laws concerning non-profit organisations dating back more than a decade.

The investigation apparently found that the foundation was “little more than an empty shell that functions with no oversight by its board of directors”. The board had not met since 1999, despite being legally required to meet annually, and did not oversee the foundation’s activities “in any way”, the document says.

Mr Trump, who has not contributed any personal funds to the foundation since 2008, was the sole signatory on the foundation’s bank accounts and approved all of its grants.

Several pages of the document focus on a charity fundraiser for veterans in Iowa in January 2016, which Mr Trump chose to hold instead of taking part in a TV debate with other Republican presidential hopefuls ahead of the influential state’s caucuses.

More than $2.8m was donated to the Trump Foundation at that event. The petition alleges that those funds raised from the public were used to promote Mr Trump’s campaign for the presidency, in particular in the Iowa nominating caucuses.

The lawsuit also claims that the foundation paid $100,000 to settle legal claims against Mr Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort; $158,000 to settle claims against one of his golf clubs; and $10,000 to purchase a painting of Mr Trump to hang at another of his golf clubs.

The purchase of the painting is an example of one of “at least five self-dealing transactions” which violate tax regulations on non-profit charities, prosecutors say.

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