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Monday, May 27, 2024

US court finds Donald Trump guilty of fraud

The former US president has been found to have unlawfully inflated the value of his properties and businesses

A New York State civil court has found former US President Donald Trump and his family business liable for illegally inflating his net worth, Justice Arthur Engoron revealed on Tuesday.

State Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump and the Trump Organization last September, claiming he had lied for a decade about his net worth. The judge found that the reality TV star had inflated the value of his assets by between $2.23 and $3.6 billion in order to secure favorable terms on bank loans, insurance, and other financial resources.

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Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, his Trump Tower penthouse, multiple golf courses and office buildings were among the assets whose value he inflated, the ruling has found. Justice Engoron backed James’ accusation that the value of several properties had been exaggerated and dismissed the Republican presidential hopeful’s defense as “wholly without basis in law or fact.”

A trial to resolve the multiple claims in the suit is scheduled to begin on Monday.

In addition to the civil suit, Trump is facing dozens of criminal charges stemming from his alleged involvement in the January 6 Capitol riot, his alleged payment of hush money to a porn star nearly a decade ago, and his alleged hoarding of top-secret government documents after leaving the White House. He has dismissed the growing thicket of cases against him as a political witch hunt and used the federal indictments – the first ever to be leveled against a former US head of state – to raise money for his 2024 presidential campaign.

James claimed in her $250 million lawsuit that the entire family was guilty of “staggering fraud” and is seeking to prohibit the Trumps and their company from doing any business in New York at all. Aside from Trump, defendants in the suit include three of his adult children and two Trump Organization executives, Allan Weisselberg and Jeff McConney.

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The former president has denied wrongdoing in the case, pointing out that “not only was no bank harmed” by the optimistic valuations of his own possessions, but “they profited handsomely to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in interest and fees – and never once took any issue with any of the loans in question.”