Judge Rules Trump Must Pay $354.9M and is Barred From N.Y. Business for 3 Years

Donald Trump has been ordered by a New York judge to pay $354.9 million in penalties for fraudulently overstating his net worth to deceive lenders, resulting in another legal setback for the former U.S. president in a civil case that threatens his real estate empire.

Justice Arthur Engoron also imposed a three-year ban on Trump serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation.

Trump has stated that he plans to appeal and was expected to comment on the ruling later in the afternoon.

The lawsuit, filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, accused Trump and his family businesses of inflating his net worth by as much as $3.6 billion annually over a decade to mislead bankers into offering him more favorable loan terms.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the case as a political vendetta by James, an elected Democrat. It is anticipated that Trump will appeal Engoron’s ruling from Friday.

The civil fraud case could have significant repercussions for Trump’s real estate empire as he continues to lead the race for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 U.S. election.

Back in September, Engoron ruled that Trump had committed fraud and ordered that his business empire be partially dissolved. The full implications of that ruling are still unclear, and Trump is appealing.

Friday’s ruling followed a contentious three-month trial in Manhattan.

During a defiant testimony in November, Trump admitted that some of his property valuations were inaccurate but argued that banks were responsible for conducting their own due diligence.

He also utilized his occasional courtroom appearances as impromptu campaign stops, delivering remarks to reporters and claiming that his adversaries are using the courts to prevent him from reclaiming the White House.

Despite a number of other legal troubles, Trump is on track to secure the Republican nomination.

He is currently facing indictment in four criminal cases, including one in New York related to hush money payments made to a porn star prior to the 2016 election. The judge overseeing that case set a March 25 trial date on Thursday, in opposition to Trump’s lawyers’ request for a delay due to his busy legal and political schedule.

Trump is also facing charges in Florida for his handling of classified documents upon leaving office, as well as in Washington and Georgia for alleged attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four cases.

During the New York civil case, Trump criticized both the judge and James in the courtroom on Jan. 11 while asserting his innocence. “You have your own agenda,” Trump scolded Engoron, prompting the judge to tell Trump’s attorney to “control your client.” During the trial, the judge fined Trump $15,000 for twice violating a gag order against disparaging court staff.

Engoron ruled in September that Trump’s financial statements were fraudulent, shifting the focus of the trial to the amount Trump should pay in penalties. James sought $370 million in penalties and a ban on Trump and his two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, from New York commercial real estate.

The trial featured dramatic testimony, including a defiant appearance on the witness stand by Trump, in which he boasted about his business acumen and accused James and Engoron of partisanship. Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen testified for the state.

Cohen admitted to manipulating the values of Trump’s real estate properties to match “whatever number Mr. Trump told us.” Trump later referred to Cohen as a “disgraceful fellow.” Cohen was grilled by Trump’s lawyers about his criminal record and accused of lying to enhance his book sales and podcast traffic.

Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka Trump also testified. They claimed to have very little involvement in their father’s financial statements while managing the Trump Organization, the parent company for Trump’s numerous business ventures. Unlike her brothers, Ivanka Trump was not a defendant.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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