A New York state judge has ruled that Donald Trump, his sons, and his business organization are responsible for conducting a “persistent and repeated fraud” by inflating the value of properties in Manhattan and Florida, as well as golf courses in the US and Scotland. The judge’s decision comes just days before the start of a trial brought by New York attorney-general Letitia James. The ruling states that the former president and his associates committed fraud and imposes sanctions on Trump’s lawyers, while also suspending the Trump Organization’s business licenses in New York. The defendants may face further damages and claims related to false financial statements and insurance fraud.
Trump responded to the ruling on his Truth Social platform, calling it a “terrible reminder” of the efforts by the “Radical Left Democrats” to prevent him from winning office again. His lawyer, Christopher Kise, deemed the decision “outrageous” and disconnected from the actual facts and legal principles. The lawsuit, filed in 2020, alleges that Trump and his businesses inflated asset values by over $2 billion to secure favorable loans. The attorney-general seeks to recover $250 million in damages and prevent the defendants from holding corporate positions in the state in the future.
This ruling represents a significant setback for Trump’s business empire and adds to his ongoing legal troubles as he aims to become the Republican nominee for president once again. The 77-year-old already faces four separate criminal indictments, including charges related to retaining classified documents and attempting to undermine the outcome of the 2020 election. Judge Engoron agreed with the attorney-general’s office that various assets, including a Park Avenue skyscraper and a Wall Street property, were unlawfully inflated, ordering the dissolution of Trump’s New York businesses for continuing to disseminate misleading information. Furthermore, the judge dismissed arguments that the banks involved were not defrauded since the loans were repaid in full, highlighting that the lenders could have earned even more if the true value of Trump’s collateral had been disclosed.