Trump must pay $355 million in a fraud case, which means he is no longer allowed to do business in New York

(Shannon Stapleton/Associated Press)

Trump must pay $355 million in a fraud case, which means he is no longer allowed to do business in New York


February 16, 2024

A New York judge on Friday ordered Donald Trump and his companies to pay $355 million in fines, ruling that they were involved in a years-long scheme to deceive banks and others with financial statements that inflated his wealth.

Trump does not have to pay out the money now because an appeal will have to take place, but the verdict is still a stunning setback for the former president.

If he is ultimately forced to pay, the amount of the fine on top of previous judgments would dramatically affect his financial resources. And the ruling undermines the image of a successful businessman that the Republican has carefully crafted to enable his unlikely rise from reality TV star to a former and perhaps future president.

Judge Arthur Engoron concluded that Trump and his company would likely continue their fraudulent practices without the financial penalties and other controls he imposed. Engoron said Trump and his co-defendants had failed to accept responsibility and that experts testing on his behalf had simply denied the reality.

This is a venial sin, not a mortal sin, wrote Engoron, a Democrat, in a searing 92-page op-ed. They didn’t rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, [the] Defendants are unable to admit their error.”

He said their complete lack of remorse and remorse borders on pathological and the fraud found here jumps off the page and shocks the conscience.”

The judge also banned Trump, who first built his reputation as a real estate mogul, from serving as an officer or director of a New York company for three years or from obtaining a loan from banks registered in his home state.

His eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Executive Vice Presidents of the Trump Organization, were ordered to pay $4 million each and banned from being officers of New York companies for two years. Former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg was ordered to pay $1 million.

Trump called the verdict a complete disgrace.” He wrote on his Truth Social platform that New York Atty. General Letitia James had been obsessed with “getting Trump” for years.

Engoron’s decision was an illegal, unAmerican judgment against me, my family and my great business, he added.

The financial penalty against Trump and his co-defendants totaling $364 million, which James’ office said would rise to $450 million with interest, will allow the Trump Organization to stay in business. The judge reversed an earlier ruling that would have dissolved the former president’s companies. But if the verdict is upheld, it will force a shake-up at the top of the company.

In a statement, James said justice has been served, calling the ruling a huge victory for this state, this nation, and for everyone who believes we should all play by the same rules, even former presidents.

Now Donald Trump is finally being held accountable for his lies, deceit and staggering fraud,” she said. “Because no matter how big, rich or powerful you think you are, no one is above the law.

Trump’s lawyers vowed to appeal. Lawyer Alina Habba posted on social media that the verdict amounted to manifest injustice “and the culmination of a multi-year, politically fueled witch hunt.”

Fellow Trump lawyer Christopher Kise called the outcome a draconian and unconstitutional fine and a death penalty for Trump, his family and his company.

The judge made his ruling after a two-month trial in which the Republican presidential candidate claimed under oath that he was the victim of a rigged justice system.

The stiff sentence was a victory for James, a Democrat, who had sued Trump for what she said was not only innocent boasting but also years of deceptive practices in building the multinational collection of skyscrapers, golf courses and other properties that propelled him to fame and catapulted. glory the White House.

James sued Trump in 2022 under a state law that authorizes her to investigate ongoing fraud in business transactions.

The lawsuit accused Trump and his co-defendants of routinely inflating his financial statements to create the illusion that his properties were more valuable than they actually were. Lawyers for the state said Trump exaggerated his wealth by as much as $3.6 billion in one year.

By making himself appear richer, Trump qualified for better loan terms, saved on interest and was able to complete projects he might not otherwise have completed, state attorneys said.

Even before the trial began, Engoron ruled that James had already proven that Trump’s financial statements were fraudulent. The judge ordered several Trump companies removed from his control and dissolved, but an appeals court put that decision on hold.

In his earlier ruling, the judge found that, among other things, Trump’s financial statements falsely claimed that his Trump Tower penthouse was nearly three times its actual size and that his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, was overrated. on the idea that the property could be developed for residential use, even though he had relinquished the rights to develop it for any use other than a club.

Trump, one of 40 witnesses to testify at the trial, said his financial statements actually understated his net worth and that the banks did their own investigation and were happy with his business.

There was no victim. There was nothing, he tested in November.

During the trial, Trump called the judge extremely hostile and the attorney general a political hack. In a six-minute tirade in court during closing arguments in January, Trump said


I am an innocent man and call the case a fraud against me.

Trump and his lawyers have said the outside auditors who helped prepare his financial statements should have flagged any discrepancies, and that the documents had disclaimers protecting him from liability. The defense also argued that some of the charges were barred by the statute of limitations.

The lawsuit is one of several legal challenges for Trump as he campaigns for a return to the White House. He has been accused four times in the past year in Georgia and Washington, D.C., of plotting to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden; in Florida of illegally retaining classified federal documents; and in New York on falsifying company records related to hush money paid on his behalf to porn actor Stormy Daniels.

On Thursday, a New York judge confirmed that Trump’s hush money trial will begin on March 25; and an Atlanta judge heard arguments over whether to remove Fulton County Dist. Atty. Fani Willis is being dropped from his election interference case in Georgia due to her personal relationship with a special prosecutor she hired for the case.

These criminal allegations do not appear to undermine Trump’s march toward Republican presidential nomination, but civil lawsuits have threatened him financially.

On January 26, a jury ordered him to pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her after she accused him in 2019 of sexually assaulting her at a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. That’s in addition to the $5 million a jury awarded Carroll in a related lawsuit last year.

In 2022, the Trump Organization was convicted of tax fraud and fined $1.6 million in an unrelated criminal case for helping executives avoid taxes on extravagant perks such as Manhattan apartments and luxury cars.

In the current case, James had asked the judge to impose a fine of at least $370 million.

Engoron decided the case because

neither side sought a jury and

State law does not allow juries for these types of trials.

Because it was a civil case and not a criminal case, the case did not carry the potential of a prison sentence.

James, who campaigned as a Trump critic and watchdog, began scrutinizing his business practices in March 2019 after his former personal attorney Michael Cohen testified before Congress that Trump had overstated his wealth on financial statements provided to Deutsche Bank provided while trying to obtain financing to purchase the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

James Office previously sued Trump for abusing his charity to advance his political and business interests. He was ordered to pay $2 million as a fine to a series of charities, and his charity, the Trump Foundation, was closed.

Trump founded the Trump Organization in New York in 1981. He still owns it, but he put his assets into a revocable trust and gave up his positions as director, president and chairman of the company when he became president, leaving management of the company to sons. Eric and Donald Jr.

Trump did not return to an official leadership position when he left the White House in 2021, but his sons have confirmed he was still involved in some decision-making.

Engoron had already appointed a supervisor, retired federal judge Barbara Jones, to keep an eye on the company.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Hot Topics

Related Articles