DONALD TRUMP hit with $365 Million fine in fraud trial for lying about his wealth

Saturday, February 17, 2024
 – A New York judge has ordered Donald Trump to pay $355 million (€329.4 million) in penalties after the former US president lied about his wealth for years in a sweeping civil fraud verdict.

Judge Arthur Engoron’s decision after a trial in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit punishes Trump, his company, and executives, including his two eldest sons, for scheming to dupe banks, insurers, and others by inflating his wealth on financial statements.

During a three-month trial, James claimed Trump inflated asset values on annual financial documents for more than a decade to dupe Deutsche Bank AG and other lenders into giving him better terms on hundreds of millions of dollars in loans.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological. They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again,” Engoron wrote. “They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways.”

Trump is sure to appeal, potentially dragging out a final resolution of the case well beyond the November election. Even if he appeals, he would be required to put up a large chunk of the damages in the form of an escrow or bond.

The judge also found former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and former company comptroller Jeffrey McConney liable in the suit.

The fine was close to the $370 million sought by the attorney general, who also requested that interest be repaid on the illegal profit. It also exceeded the $250 million included in the original complaint, which she increased based on additional evidence presented at trial.

The fine was mostly based on the $168 million Trump saved by getting lower interest rates on four loans by lying about his wealth. It also includes the $127 million profit from the Old Post Office hotel deal in Washington and $60 million from the sale of Ferry Point golf course in New York, which the state says he wouldn’t have been able to purchase without inflating the value of his assets. The sum also includes the return of bonuses paid to employees who participated in the fraud.

“This verdict is a manifest injustice - plain and simple,” Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a statement. “It is the culmination of a multi-year, politically fueled witch hunt that was designed to ‘take down Donald Trump,’ before Letitia James ever stepped foot into the Attorney General’s office.”

A few hours after the verdict, the Trump campaign seized on the opportunity to fundraise, pleading with supporters to donate over “undeniable election interference.” The former president has had to drain his war chest for legal fees and is on track to run out of money mid-year.

The $364 million fine comes just weeks after a federal jury in Manhattan ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million in damages to writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her when she went public with claims that he raped her in the 1990s.

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