Judge Fines Trump More Than $350 Million, Bars Him From Running Businesses in N.Y. for Three Years

A civil fraud trial that implicated the Trump business empire culminated with a judge obligating the previous president, his kin, and associates to remit a hefty sum surpassing $350 million in damages. The legal decision further imposed a temporary halt on their business operations in the state of New York. The current verdict compelled both the former president and the Trump Organization to settle up in excess of $354 million in damages. More so, Trump was interdicted from acting in any official capacity within any corporate or legal entity in New York for three years.

The ruling upheld the continued appointment of a third-party monitor while also necessitating the induction of an Independent Director of Compliance overseeing the company’s affairs. The pinpoint issue of the Attorney General’s case rested on inflated financial statements, which Trump and his high-ranking executives, namely his sons, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump, sidestepped, attributing the discrepancy to the accountants tasked with arranging these documents.

Judge Arthur Engoron rebuffed this stand, with his judgment stating that it was ultimately the responsibility of the Trump Organization to ensure the veracity of the supplied data, pointing to both interested and non-interested witness testimonies reinforced by documentary evidence. The court further underscored the absence of any signs of regret or remorse in Trump and his executives once the fraud was uncovered, necessitating the need for impartial oversight.

The Judge characterized the attitude of the defendants towards their alleged misdeeds as bordering on pathological. The crux of the issue was not considered a mortal sin, boiled down to allegations of inflating asset values to increase profits. But their inability and refusal to acknowledge or correct the error was a cause of deep concern for the court.

This concern was viewed as an indicator that they would persist with this behavior unless restrained by judicial mandate. Additionally, the court verdict precludes Trump’s sons, who were running the business during their father’s presidential tenure, from holding any executive position in any New York corporation for two years.

In response to the verdict, Trump Jr. expressed his views on social media, lamenting that political beliefs and case venues have become prominent outcome deciders rather than the case facts, expressing alarm at the state of the nation. Alina Habba, Trump’s attorney, called the verdict a manifest injustice, expressing confidence that the appellate division would annul this egregious ruling, putting an end to what she termed as ‘relentless persecution’ against her clientele.

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization expressed dismay at the ruling, labeling it as a gross miscarriage of justice, maintaining that the company has always been diligent in honoring their loan payments, and have never defaulted on any loan. This decision marks the second of its kind against Trump this year, coming on the heels of an $83.3 million verdict against him in the defamation case by the writer E.Jean Carroll.

The judicial aftermath facing the former president does not end here. He is looking at a probable four criminal trials this year, with the first set to commence in a New York state court on March 25th. This is happening as his presidential campaign heads full throttle towards the upcoming November election.

New York Attorney General Letitia James had claimed a sum of $370 million from Trump, his company, and top executives including his sons, accusing them of relentless and systematic fraud, involving forgery of business records and financial statements. She insisted that these financial statements were sometimes ratcheted up to the tune of $2.2 billion.

The defendants, according to James, utilized these inflated financial statements to secure bank loans and insurance policies at privileged rates, pocketing ill-gotten gains in the running into several hundreds of millions. On the other hand, Trump defended his statements as prudent and dubbed the AG’s allegations a politically stimulated fraud against him.

Trump was deeply critical of the case during his appearance in court for the closing proceedings, vehemently maintaining his innocence. During the trial, the court sessions also included testimonies from Trump’s older children, hearing out their views on this ruling.

Trump’s unbending stance and his constant critique of James and the judge compounded friction during the court sessions. His litany of complaints ranged from targeting Engoron, the judge, to casting a negative light on the judge’s law clerk, an action which subsequently resulted in a flood of death threats against both the clerk and the judge.

Trump was penalized with a $15,000 fine for twice contravening the court order. The alleged fraud instances brought up by the attorney general during the trial included stressed valuations of Trump’s real estate assets. Such assets included his sprawling triplex home in Trump Tower in New York City and his golf courses, overvaluing their worth in financial statements.

The misrepresentation of his signature residence and social club in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, was a notable point of contention. It was appraised by the defendants at an amount between $426 million and $612 million. In stark contrast, the local county appraiser valued the property between $18 million and $27 million.

Trump contested these figures during the trial, asserting that the true value of the property exceeded the judge’s valuation by a substantial factor. Trump claimed that it was worth, according to his estimates, between one to one and a half billion dollars.

The probe initiated into Trump’s business activities began as a consequence of the testimony of Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney. This culminated into a lawsuit demanding $250 million in damages from Trump in 2022, followed by appointing a financial monitor for his company’s finances in November that year.

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Judge Fines Trump More Than $350 Million, Bars Him From Running Businesses in N.Y. for Three Years appeared first on Real News Now.

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