Donald Trump and his family business are facing trial in New York to determine how much they owe in penalties after a judge found they inflated the former United States president’s assets by billions of dollars to secure more favourable loan and insurance terms.
Here is a look at the case brought by New York attorney general, Letitia James, against the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
What is Trump accused of doing?
Trump, his businesses and his two adult sons are accused of inflating assets by as much as $1.9 billion (€1.8 billion) to $3.6 billion per year between 2011 and 2021 to save hundreds of millions of dollars on loans and insurance.
James’s office said the former president and his associates used incorrect figures for the sizes of his properties and false or highly unrealistic assumptions about their development potential to arrive at the inflated values.
The judge in the case, Justice Arthur Engoron, ruled on September 26th that James had proven Trump and his co-defendants fraudulently inflated his assets. That means the trial will largely concern how much they must pay in penalties.
What consequences could Trump face?
Trump does not face any criminal penalties in the civil case but could suffer substantial financial and business consequences.
James is seeking at least $250 million in penalties, a ban against Trump and his sons Donald jnr and Eric from running businesses in New York and a five-year commercial real estate ban against Trump and the Trump Organization.
What will happen to Trump’s business empire?
Engoron in his ruling ordered the cancellation of certificates that 10 of Trump’s business entities need to operate some of his marquee properties – including Trump Tower and his golf clubs in New York – and said he would appoint independent receivers to oversee their “dissolution”.
The full implications of that ruling on Trump’s opaque network of business holdings is not yet clear but the trial could provide clarity over whether the assets at the centre of the dispute will be liquidated.
What has Trump said about the case?
Trump’s lawyers have disputed James’s figures, saying they are based on flawed accounting methods that fail to consider his “investment genius” in arriving at his own asset valuations.
The former president himself was dismissive of the allegations during a meandering deposition in April where he touted his achievements in office and distanced himself from day-to-day decision-making at his flagship Trump Organization.
In a post on his Truth Social platform the day of the ruling, Trump called accusations that he committed fraud “ridiculous and untrue,” and blasted Engoron as a “deranged” judge. – Reuters