Donald Trump, his eldest children and their business conglomerate were found responsible for orchestrating a “persistent and repeated fraud” that vastly inflated the value of properties in Manhattan and Florida, as well as golf courses in the United States and Scotland, according to a New York state judge.
The ruling, issued on Tuesday (26) by Judge Arthur Engoron, suspended the Trump Organization’s business licenses in New York and determined that additional damages will be assessed later in the trial of the case, as well as the question of whether or not the defendants are responsible. for issuing false financial statements and insurance fraud.
In a statement released on his Truth Social platform, Trump said the decision is a “terrible reminder that radical left Democrats will stop at nothing” to stop him from winning the election again — the former president is already practically campaigning against the current president, Joe Biden, even though the Republican and Democratic candidacies have not been made official.
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Christopher Kise, Trump’s lawyer, called the decision “scandalous” and “totally disconnected from the facts and current law.” He added that the decision “seeks to nationalize one of the most successful corporate empires in the United States and seize private property, while recognizing that there is no evidence of any default, violation, late payment or any claim of injury.”
The lawsuit, originally filed in 2022 by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleges that Trump and his companies inflated the value of assets by more than $2 billion to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in loans on favorable terms. The prosecutor seeks to recover US$250 million in damages and tries to prevent the defendants from serving on boards again.
The decision is a blow to Trump’s business empire and adds to the numerous legal issues he faces — four separate criminal charges related to issues including withholding classified documents and attempting to subvert the outcome of the 2020 election, in which he was defeated by Biden. He pleaded not guilty to all of them.
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The Trumps’ lawyers, including Kise, the former attorney general of Florida, were also fined $7,500 each by the court. The judge also rejected arguments that the banks in question, including Deutsche Bank, were not defrauded as the loans were repaid in full.
On social media, Trump claimed that no harm was done to the “sophisticated Wall Street banks” from which he borrowed money. But Judge Engoron said that “the first principle of loan accounting is that as risk increases, so do interest rates” and that lenders could have made “even more money” if the actual value of loan collateral Trump had been declared.
With information from the Financial Times.
Editing: Patrícia de Matos