© Reuters. Former US President Donald Trump 09/25/2023 REUTERS/Sam Wolfe
By Jonathan Stempel and Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York judge has found that Donald Trump and his family company fraudulently inflated the values of their properties and other assets, in a ruling that represents a major defeat for the former U.S. president, and which could seriously harm your ability to do business in the State.
The scathing decision by Judge Arthur Engoron of New York State Court in Manhattan will make it easier for State Attorney General Letitia James to establish compensation amounts in a trial scheduled for October 2.
Engoron also ordered the cancellation of certificates that allowed some of Trump’s companies, including the Trump Organization, to operate in New York, and ordered the appointment of a receiver to manage the dissolution of the companies.
The judge described how Trump, his adult sons Donald Jr. and Eric, the Trump Organization and other defendants crafted valuations and inflated Trump’s net worth to meet their business needs.
“This is a fantasy world, not the real world,” Engoron wrote.
The judge also sanctioned the defendants’ lawyers for presenting “absurd” legal arguments and fueling their clients’ “noisy” conduct.
Trump and the other defendants have argued that they never committed fraud and that the disputed transactions were profitable. They plan to appeal Engoron’s decision.
“Today’s outrageous decision is completely disconnected from the facts and current law,” Christopher Kise, Trump’s lawyer, said in a statement. “President Trump and his family will pursue all available appeals to rectify this miscarriage of justice.”
James said he hopes to present the rest of his case at trial.
“It’s a devastating decision,” said Bill Black, a resident scholar in financial regulation at the University of Minnesota Law School. He said canceling business certificates could harm Trump’s ability to make money.
“If the decision stands, they will have to liquidate the LLCs, which actually hold the huge portion of the assets,” Black said, referring to limited liability companies.
Trump is leading the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
In a post on his Truth Social platform, Trump considered accusations that he had committed fraud to be “ridiculous and false” and accused Engoron of being a judge serving James, a Democrat.
“This is a Democratic political legal war and witch hunt on a level never seen before,” Trump wrote. “If they can do it to me, they can do it to YOU!”
Trump has repeatedly stated, without evidence, that the accusations against him are a “witch hunt.”
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld, Jack Queen and Jonathan Stempel in New York)
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