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Trump fraud probe testimony delayed over Ivana's death

NEW YORK (AFP) - Ex-president Donald Trump's deposition in New York's civil probe into alleged fraud at his family business has been postponed following the death of his first wife, a justice official said on Friday (July 15).

Mr Trump and his eldest children, Donald Jr and Ivanka, had been due to start testifying under oath in New York Attorney General Letitia James's probe on Friday.

But a spokesperson for Ms James said the depositions had been delayed because of the death on Thursday of Ivana Trump, who was Donald Jr and Ivanka's mother.

"In light of the passing of Ivana Trump yesterday, we received a request from counsel for Donald Trump and his children to adjourn all three depositions, which we have agreed to," the spokesperson said in a statement emailed to AFP.

"This is a temporary delay and the depositions will be rescheduled as soon as possible. There is no other information about dates or otherwise to provide at this time.

"We offer our condolences to the Trump family," she added.

Ivana Trump died aged 73 at her home in Manhattan.

Police are investigating whether she accidentally fell down the stairs and the city's medical examiner is due to determine the cause of death.

Ms James suspects the Trump Organisation fraudulently overstated the value of real estate properties when applying for bank loans, while understating them with the tax authorities in order to pay less in taxes.

The Trumps have denied any wrongdoing, but in June a judge ruled that investigators would have a week to quiz the trio from July 15.

If Ms James, a Democrat, finds any evidence of financial misconduct, she can sue the Trump Organisation for damages but cannot file criminal charges because it is a civil investigation.

Ms James's probe is one of several legal battles in which Mr Trump is embroiled, threatening to complicate any bid for another run for the White House in 2024.

The Trump Organisation is also under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney for possible financial crimes and insurance fraud.

Last July, the Trump Organisation and its long-serving finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, pleaded not guilty in a New York court to 15 felony fraud and tax evasion charges.

Mr Weisselberg's trial is due to begin this year.

Mr Trump, 76, has so far kept Americans guessing about whether he intends to seek the Republican nomination again.

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