United States: Judge finds Donald Trump responsible for financial fraud

A New York judge declared, Tuesday, September 26, Donald Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, responsible for “repeated” financial “frauds” in the 2010s in the valuation of the assets of the Trump Organization , even before the opening, Monday, of the civil trial in this case

United States: Judge finds Donald Trump responsible for financial fraud

A New York judge declared, Tuesday, September 26, Donald Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, responsible for “repeated” financial “frauds” in the 2010s in the valuation of the assets of the Trump Organization , even before the opening, Monday, of the civil trial in this case.

The Attorney General of the State of New York, Letitia James, who had filed a complaint, is demanding in particular 250 million dollars (approximately 236 million euros) in financial reparations and bans on running companies for the ex-president and his relatives.

This elected Democrat – in the United States, most state attorneys general are elected by direct universal suffrage – accuses the Republican billionaire and his children of having “inflated” this heritage by several billion dollars to, among other things, obtain more advantageous loans from banks from 2011 to 2021.

Lawyers for the former president, who dreams of winning back the White House in 2024, had asked Judge Engoron to dismiss the case before trial, granting what is known as summary judgment in his favor. Letitia James also requested a summary judgment, wanting Donald Trump to be found responsible before the trial.

The surface area of ​​a triplex in New York three times larger than reality

Ultimately, the judge sided with the Attorney General, finding in his decision that Donald Trump and his two children, executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization, are “responsible” for “repeated violations” of the law. According to her ruling, Letitia James presented "conclusive evidence that between 2014 and 2021, defendants overstated the assets reported in [Donald Trump's] financial disclosure by 17.27% to 38.51%," a discrepancy between “$812 million and $2.2 billion.”

The Trump Organization brings together a myriad of companies and ranges from residential real estate, with several skyscrapers in New York, to luxury hotels, private residences or clubs like Mar-a-Lago in Florida and golf clubs . In March, Forbes magazine estimated Donald Trump's fortune at $2.5 billion.

In her complaint, the Attorney General cites several examples, including Donald Trump's triplex inside the Trump Tower in New York, the value of which was allegedly declared on the basis of a surface area three times greater than reality (i.e. 2,700 square meters versus 1,000 square meters), which would have valued it at $327 million.

“Good faith measures could range from 10%-20%, not 200%,” Judge Engoron wrote. For the magistrate, a “discrepancy of this order of magnitude, on the part of a real estate developer increasing its own residential surface area for decades, can only be considered fraud”.

The court has yet to decide on the sanction

He lists other examples, such as the Seven Springs property in the New York region, the Trump Park Avenue or 40 Wall Street buildings in New York or even golf courses and the Florida residence Mar-a-Lago. Particularly scathing, Judge Engoron writes in his thirty-five page decision that the Trump camp's defense arguments come from a "fantasy world, not the real world."

According to John Coffee, professor of law at Columbia University in New York, specializing in financial crime, the magistrate made his decision "on the questions of fraud and misrepresentation", which "are the most important" and the court must still decide on the sanction. According to this expert, “the best hope left to Donald Trump” concerns “the prescription” of the facts, an argument which must still be decided by the courts.

On his Truth Social network, the former American president reaffirms that he has nothing to be ashamed of and describes the judge as “hateful” towards him. “I am worth much more than what the figures say in my financial statements,” he also wrote in capital letters, ensuring that the banks have never had to complain about the loans granted.

The civil trial which is to begin Monday in this case is only the first in a long list for Donald Trump, who will also have to appear, in particular, before federal justice, accused of having tried to reverse the result of the presidential election of 2020, or before the courts of the State of Georgia for having, there too, tried to manipulate the results of the vote lost to Joe Biden.