Trump Foundation to be shut down amid illegality accusations, remaining assets to be distributed to other organisations

New York: US president Donald Trump has agreed to close down his personal charity called the Trump Foundation, the New York attorney general said on Tuesday, accusing it of engaging in a "shocking pattern of illegality" to advance his political and business interests.

The Trump Foundation would be dissolved, and its remaining assets distributed to other charities under her supervision, attorney general Barbara Underwood said in a statement.

File image of US president Donald Trump. Reuters

File image of US president Donald Trump. Reuters

Underwood said there had been a "shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more."

"This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a chequebook to serve Trump's business and political interests," she said in a statement. "This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone," Underwood added.

The New York attorney general filed a lawsuit against the Trump Foundation in June, accusing it of "persistently illegal conduct." The lawsuit named the president, his sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, and his daughter Ivanka Trump, who were on the board of the foundation.

"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," Underwood said.

The suit seeks $2.8 million in restitution and to bar Trump, Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka from serving on the boards of other New York non-profits.

Portrait in golf club

According to the lawsuit, Trump used foundation funds to settle lawsuits, promote his Trump-branded hotels, and for personal spending — including the purchase of a portrait that was displayed at one of his golf clubs. It is one of many legal woes that Trump is facing, whose election campaign is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for possible collusion with Russia.

Last week, Trump's former personal lawyer Michael  Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for paying hush money to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump and other crimes.

In June, Trump branded the foundation lawsuit a "ridiculous case" drummed up by "sleazy New York Democrats" and vowed to fight it. "I won't settle this case!" he tweeted.

The lawsuit painted a picture of habitual misuse of foundation funds for years, signed off on by Trump, who was president of the thinly staffed charity. Alleged abuses included providing foundation funds to a Florida political campaign; settling a 2007 lawsuit between the City of Palm Beach and Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, and settling a lawsuit by a golfer who took part in a Trump-sponsored charity event in 2012.

There was so little oversight of the foundation, according to the suit, that its board has not met since 1999, despite legal requirements for an annual board meeting to review its finances.

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Updated Date: Jan 04, 2019 13:04:20 IST