Donald Trump unable to dissolve charitable foundation due to criminal investigation

The foundation has been the subject of an investigation for several months

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The Independent Online

Donald Trump may have vowed to dissolve the controversial foundation established in his name, but officials said he cannot do so while it is the subject of criminal investigation.

The President-elect said that he wanted to close the Donald J. Trump Foundation in an effort to try and remove any potential conflicts of interest before he takes office on January 20.

But the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said the 70-year-old Republican would be unable to proceed with the plan, as the foundation remained the subject of a probe.

“The Trump foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete,” said Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Mr Schneiderman.

The Associated Press said the workings of the foundation have been under investigation for several months. The charity has admitted that it violated IRS regulations barring it from using its money or assets to benefit Mr Trump, his family, his companies or substantial contributors to the foundation. 

The news agency said the admissions by the charity were in a 2015 tax filing made public after a presidential election in which it was revealed that the tycoon had used the charity to settle lawsuits, make a $25,000 political contribution and purchase items, including a painting of himself.

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The 2015 tax filing was posted on the nonprofit monitoring website GuideStar on November 18 by someone using an email address from the foundation's law firm, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, said GuideStar spokeswoman Jackie Enterline Fekeci. 

Mr Schneiderman, a Democrat, launched his investigation into the charity after the Washington Post drew attention to some of the foundation's purchases. 

Mr Trump said this week on Twitter that his foundation was run efficiently. 

“The DJT Foundation, unlike most foundations, never paid fees, rent, salaries or any expenses,” he said. “100% of the money goes to wonderful charities.” 

The Trump Foundation reported assets of $1.12m in its 2015 tax returns.

But although Mr Trump touted the philanthropic efforts of his foundation, he has largely filled the charity’s coffers with other people’s money, according to a CNN review of the Trump Foundation’s tax records in September. 

It is unclear if Mr Trump has donated money to charitable causes outside of the foundation as he has refused to release his tax returns, which would shed light on his charitable contributions.

The foundation was forced to stop fundraising in New York State after Mr Schneiderman issued a cease-and-desist order in October citing the foundation’s failure to properly register with the state.

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