By Miriam Raftery
By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Trump Tower in New York, Creative Commons 3.0 image by Bin im Garten
September 29, 2023 (New York, NY) -- Donald Trump and his sons Eric and Don Jr. stand to lose their business empire, after New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled that the company repeatedly violated the state’s fraud laws. The judge found that the Trumps inflated the value of their assets by billions of dollars to get favorable loans and insurance terms, while claiming far lower values on the same properties when it suited them to do so.
For example, Trump valued his Mar-a-Lago golf club at $714 million on his annual financial statements, even though a tax assessor estimated its value at must $18 million. Trump even listed the size of his Mar-a-Lago penthouse at 30,000 square feet, instead of its actual size—just 10,000 square feet, according to the civil fraud lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Judge Engoron has ordered business certificates for Trump’s New York properties cancelled and ordered independent receivers be appointed within 10 days to manage dissolving the companies, which could include selling off the assets. Trump could be entitled to money from any such sale.
Trump attorney Alina Habba told media outside the courthouse that the ruling is “fundamentally flawed” and said an immediate appeal would be filed. It’s likely that Trump will ask for a stay to prevent dissolution of his companies’ assets until the appeals court issues a ruling, which covers 10 Trump properties.
Meanwhile on Monday, a hearing in New York by James seeks at least $250 million in penalties from Trump. She also seeks to permanently bar Trump from serving as an officer or director of any business in New York and ban him from buying property in the state for at least five years.
This is far from the first fraud ruling against Trump, who previously had his family charity and Trump university shut down by courts due to findings of fraud.
The case is civil, not criminal. However Trump is facing 91 criminal counts in four jurisdictions, both state and federal. Those charges include a conspiracy to have fake electors cast votes and pressure election officials to alter election results, incite violence at the capitol, mishandle classified documents and pay hush money to a porn star. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four cases, which were filed in Georgia, Washington D.C., Florida,and New York.