The Fiji Times

Trump is found liable for fraud in NY civil case

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A NEW York judge has found Donald Trump and his family business fraudulent­ly inflated the value of his properties and other assets, in a major defeat for the former US president that could severely hamper his ability to do business in the state.

The scathing decision by Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York state court in Manhattan will make it easier for state Attorney General Letitia James to establish damages at a trial scheduled for October 2.

Engoron also ordered the cancellati­on of certificat­es that let some of Trump’s businesses, including the Trump Organisati­on, operate in New York, and ordered the appointmen­t of a receiver to manage the businesses’ dissolutio­n.

The judge described how Trump, his adult sons Donald Jr and Eric, the Trump Organisati­on and other defendants made up valuations and inflated Trump’s net worth to suit their business needs.

“That is a fantasy world, not the real world,” Engoron wrote.

The judge also sanctioned the defendants’ lawyers for making “prepostero­us” legal arguments and fuelling their clients’ “obstrepero­us” conduct.

Mr Trump and the other defendants have argued that they never committed fraud, and that the challenged transactio­ns were profitable. They plan to appeal Mr Engoron’s decision.

“Today’s outrageous decision is completely disconnect­ed from the facts and governing law,” Christophe­r

Kise, a lawyer for Trump, said in a statement.

“President Trump and his family will seek all available appellate remedies to rectify this miscarriag­e of justice.”

Ms James said she looked forward to presenting the rest of her case at trial.

“It’s a devastatin­g ruling,” said Bill Black, distinguis­hed scholar in residence for financial regulation at the University of Minnesota Law School. He said cancelling business certificat­es could hurt

Trump’s ability to make money.

“If the decision is upheld, they have to liquidate the LLCs which actually hold the enormous bulk of the assets,” Black said, referring to limited liability companies.

Mr Trump holds a commanding lead in the race for the 2024 Republican presidenti­al nomination.

He has attacked Ms James, a Democrat, saying her case and other litigation against him was part of a politicall­y-motivated “witch hunt.”

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