Spread the love

Donald Trump ordered to pay more than $350 million in fines for fraud

Photo: Shannon Stapleton Pool Getty Images via Agence France-Presse Donald Trump, during the final arguments in his civil trial for fraud, on January 11

Fabien Deglise

4:25 p.m.

  • United States

At the end of a highly publicized trial that lasted nearly two and a half months, Judge Arthur Engoron on Friday severely sentenced former President Donald Trump to pay a fine of US$355 million , for conspiracy to manipulate the accounts of his real estate empire.

In the process, the judge imposed a three-year ban on the billionaire from holding a position in a New York company. That includes his own. Such a sanction also applies for two years to the two sons of the former president, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump. The latter is the CEO of the Trump Organization.

The judgment therefore compromises the ability of a member of the Trump family to run the company in the short term.

Wednesday, on his social network, the ex-president had anticipated this verdict by rebelling in advance, in capital letters, at a “dishonest judgment” which will mark a “dark and sad day for the New York State justice system.”

This conviction could indeed have “seismic consequences” on Donald Trump’s empire, commented a few weeks ago by Elliot Williams, former federal prosecutor and analyst on the CNN network, in citing the “loss for the organization of any significant ability to do business in New York”, a sanction far more damaging “than a prison sentence”, according to him.

New York justice has launched civil proceedings against the former president and leader in the current race for the Republican nomination, accusing him of having inflated for years the value of the assets of his real estate empire way to obtain more generous loans or lower rates from banks and insurance companies. The trial which began last October also targets two former executives of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg and Jeff McConney.

Also read

  • New York state seeks $370 million from Trump for financial fraud
  • At his civil trial for fraud, Trump again denounces “election interference”

In total, nearly 200 financial evaluations were scrutinized. The example of Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, the populist's iconic residence, is also glaring: the courts value the property at $18 million, while Trump's real estate division speaks of it as a jewel worth half a billion, or 25 times more. Last September, at the opening of the trial, the ex-president, angry, even pushed the overvaluation of this property even further on his social network, citing an amount of 1.8 billion, or 100 times more .

State prosecutors were seeking $370 million in restitution for ill-gotten gains.

In his judgment, Arthur Engoron considers that “the accused did not agree to assume their responsibility” nor to impose “internal controls to prevent future recurrences”, we can read.

An imaginary world

Last September, he held the ex-president responsible for fraud by describing as “convincing” the evidence establishing the “imaginary [financial] world” constructed by Donald Trump, on purpose. Between 2014 and 2021, he overvalued his group's assets by “$812 million to $2.2 billion” depending on the year.

The judge also ordered at that time the cancellation of the billionaire's business licenses, thus preventing him from continuing part of his real estate activities in New York State. Donald Trump appealed this decision. It should also place this new verdict from Judge Engoron on the same trajectory.

The judgment in the case was initially scheduled to be delivered on January 31, but the decision was delayed after new evidence emerged that could influence the verdict. In a letter submitted to the court late last month, a court-appointed monitor to oversee the Trump Organization's financial reporting said a $48 million personal loan reported for years as a liability in the financial statements of the ex-president and coming from a company linked to one of his buildings in Chicago had ultimately “never existed”.

In early February, the former CFO of Trump's real estate empire and co-defendant in the case, Allen Weisselberg, also reportedly entered into talks with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office to sign a guilty plea agreement, reported the New York Times, last week. This could have had an impact on this affair, but also on other trials that the Republican candidate will have to face, on the sidelines of the electoral campaign that he is currently leading in the hope of regaining the White House next November. .

Repeated hard blows

Judge Engoron's decision concludes a busy legal week for Donald Trump, who this week was notified in person to appear in another New York court on March 25 for the start of his criminal trial for bribery -of wine. The payments were intended to silence an alleged relationship with a pornographic actress in the final weeks of his 2016 election campaign.

Since the beginning of the year, American justice has dealt hard blows to the ex-president who was subjected at the end of January to an exemplary fine of US$83 million in the defamation case brought against him by the journalist and author E. Jean Carroll.

In total, the populist also faces 91 counts in 4 separate criminal cases, including one for trying to overturn the 2020 presidential vote in his favor, by, among other things, orchestrating an insurrection against the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and another for seeking to create fake Republican voters in Georgia to prevent Joe Biden's victory that same year.

As of October 2023, the estimated net worth of the Trump empire is $2.6 billion according to Forbes magazine, including $426 million in cash and liquid assets.

With this latest ruling, Donald Trump could have to pay more than $400 million, once interest is added, a penalty that, combined with that handed down in the civil suit filed by E. Jean Carroll for defamation , would drain the Republican's cash flow, and reduce the overall value of his real estate empire by 15%, according to Bloomberg.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116