Former President Donald Trump is currently facing a high-stakes civil trial in Manhattan. This legal battle could not only result in hefty fines but also potentially reshape his business empire and limit his future in New York.
Allegations of Fraud
The trial centers on allegations that Trump and his associates inflated the value of his assets significantly. This alleged manipulation aimed to secure more favorable loan and insurance terms.
False Financial Statements
According to the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, Trump used false and misleading financial statements from 2011 to 2021 to bolster his wealth artificially, aiding him in securing deals and financing.
An Exaggerated Value
James contends that Trump may owe at least $250 million in damages due to fraud.
During a three-year investigation, it was discovered that Trump had exaggerated the value of 23 properties and assets, potentially by hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.
No One Is Above the Law
Outside the courtroom, James said, “My message is simple: No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law.”
A Unique Trial
The trial is unique in that it is a bench trial, meaning there is no jury. Instead, the sole decider is New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron.
The Opening Remarks
In his opening remarks, Engoron outlined the legal definition of fraud, emphasizing the need to prove that Trump knowingly made false statements.
Engoron said, “One thing I know about is the legal definition of fraud.”
State prosecutor Kevin Wallace presented the government’s case, arguing that Trump and his associates presented false statements as true while being aware of their falseness.
Wallace said, “They claim they weren’t involved in the valuation process,” however “there is ample evidence of intent.”
Trump’s defense attorneys, Christopher Kise, and Alina Habba, defended him by praising his business acumen and insisting that the financial statements represented only a small portion of his extensive business transactions.
The Most Successful Real Estate Empire
Kise praised Trump by saying, “President Trump has made billions of dollars building the most successful real estate empire in the world.”
Kise then defended Trump’s action by saying the financial statements, “represent a fraction of the overall business transaction of the overall business empire” and that there were “no unjust profits, and there were no victims.”
Courtroom Drama and Consequences
The courtroom proceedings have been filled with dramatic moments.
Trump, along with his adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, was found guilty of fraud by Judge Engoron.
Along with the decision, Engoron said the former president had been working in a “fantasy world.”
Canceled Business Certificates
As a result, Trump and his sons’ business certificates, which control key properties like Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street in Manhattan, were canceled. This decision could make it exceedingly difficult for them to continue doing business in New York.
Purchases Based on Lies
The attorney general’s office also seeks a hefty fine and the release of profits made using fraudulent financial statements. They argue that loans obtained through these false statements were used to purchase several properties and that any profits made from these deals were based on lies.
Will His Family Come Through
While Trump and his children, including Ivanka Trump, are on the witness list, it remains uncertain whether they will testify.
Even if called, they have the option not to appear, though the judge can consider this in his decision.
After being formally charged with fraud, Trump went to Truth Social to say, “This entire case should be thrown out and dismissed.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Potashev Aleksandr. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.