NEW YORK: The New York state court in Manhattan has found Donald Trump and his family business liable for fraud in the civil lawsuit brought by state Attorney General Letitia James. Justice Arthur Engoron issued the verdict, stating that the former US president illegally inflated his net worth and assets.
Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump in September 2022. She alleged that the Trump Organisation lied about asset values and net worth for a decade to seal better terms on bank loans and insurance. According to Letitia, Trump inflated his net worth by $2.23 billion on annual financial statements and as per one measure by $3.6 billion. She added that the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, a penthouse apartment in Trump Tower, various office buildings, and golf courses were the assets whose values were inflated.
Trump’s legal team and other defendants issued no immediate response regarding the ruling by the NY court. However, Judge Engoron’s ruling came as a setback for Trump. The ruling by Engoron, as quoted by media outlets, stated:
“In the defendants’ world, the rent-regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party’s lies. That is a fantasy world, not the real world.”
Letitia James scrutinising Trump’s business practices
Letitia James started scrutinising the business practices of Trump in March 2019. The process began after Michael Cohen (personal lawyer of the former president) testified before Congress about Trump exaggerating his wealth on financial statements submitted to Deutsche Bank for obtaining financing for Buffalo Bills of NFL.
Previously, the office of the Attorney General sued Trump for misuse of his charitable foundation for political and business interests. Donald Trump paid $2 million as a fine, and eventually, the Trump Foundation was shut down.