US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Picture: Lucas Jackson

New York - The top state prosecutor in New York has notified Donald Trump that his charitable foundation is violating state law – by soliciting donations without proper certification – and ordered the charity to stop its fundraising immediately.

James Sheehan, head of the attorney general’s charities bureau, sent the “notice of violation” to the Donald J Trump Foundation on Friday, according to reports.

“The failure immediately to discontinue solicitation and to file information and reports... with the Charities Bureau shall be deemed to be a continuing fraud upon the people of the state of New York,” said the letter, subsequently posted online.

The move came after The Washington Post reported last week that the campaign lacked a required state certification that would allow it to request funding from the public. Trump organised a veterans’ event after cancelling a primary debate appearance in January and collected $1.67m (£1.3m) through a website directing donations to the foundation.

The newspaper said Trump’s charitable foundation, which has been sustained for years by donors outside the Trump family, has never obtained the certification that New York state requires before charities can solicit money from the public.

Under state law, any charity that solicits more than $25,000 a year from the public must obtain a special kind of registration beforehand. Charities as large as Trump’s must also submit to a rigorous annual audit.

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman’s office said last week it had opened an inquiry into Trump’s Foundation, which has faced intense scrutiny in recent weeks.

The Internal Revenue Service fined Trump earlier this year for using his charity to donate $25,000 to a political organisation for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and reporting in its public forms that the money was for a similarly named charity instead.

Such organisations are not allowed to make political contributions and the donation came as Bondi’s office was reportedly looking into the now-defunct Trump University, which currently faces a lawsuit from Schneiderman’s office. Both Bondi and Trump have both denied the contribution was connected to the case.

More recently, the Post reported that Trump used his foundation to help settle a series of lawsuits against his private businesses, a move that experts say may have violated laws on “self-dealing”.

The Trump campaign has previously denounced Schneiderman, a Democrat supporting Hillary Clinton for president, as politically motivated. “While we remain very concerned about the political motives behind AG Schneiderman's investigation, the Trump Foundation nevertheless intends to cooperate fully with the investigation,” Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said in a statement.

“Because this is an ongoing legal matter, the Trump Foundation will not comment further at this time.”

The Independent