A judge ruled on Tuesday that former US President Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House, The Associated Press reports.
Judge Arthur Engoron, ruling in a civil lawsuit brought by New York’s attorney general, found that the former President and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.
Beyond mere bragging about his riches, Trump, his company and key executives repeatedly lied about them on his annual financial statements, reaping rewards such as favorable loan terms and lower insurance premiums, Engoron found.
Those tactics crossed a line and violated the law, the judge said, rejecting Trump’s contention that a disclaimer on the financial statements absolved him of any wrongdoing.
Manhattan prosecutors looked into bringing a criminal case over the same conduct but declined to do so, leaving James to sue Trump and seek penalties that could disrupt his and his family’s ability to do business in the state.
The New York AG’s civil lawsuit, filed in September 2022, alleges that the Trump family enriched themselves for over two decades from "numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentations.” It accuses the family of inflating Donald Trump’s net worth by billion and of issuing misleading financial statements. It seeks $250 million and a ban on any of the defendants running a company in the state of New York.
Engoron’s ruling, in a phase of the case known as summary judgment, resolves the key claim in James’ lawsuit, but six others remain.
He is slated to hold a non-jury trial starting October 2 before deciding on those claims and any punishments he may impose. James is seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York, his home state. The trial could last into December, Engoron has said.
Trump’s lawyers had asked the judge to throw out the case, which he denied.