Ivanka Trump takes stand in New York civil fraud trial
NEW YORK, United States (AFP)— Ivanka Trump, the former US president’s daughter, took the stand on Wednesday in the civil fraud trial threatening to cripple the family business empire.
The 42-year-old, who left the Trump Organization in 2017 to become a White House advisor to her father, is not a defendant in the case but was subpoenaed to testify.
“The people call Ivanka Trump,” a court officer said.
“Who’s she?” Judge Arthur Engoron joked.
Donald Trump, his eldest sons Don Jr and Eric and other Trump Organization executives are accused of inflating the value of their real estate assets by billions of dollars to obtain more favourable bank loans and insurance terms.
New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case, said ahead of Ivanka Trump’s testimony that she had “secured, negotiated loans to obtain favourable terms based on fraudulent statements of financial condition.”
“She will attempt today to distance herself from the company,” James told reporters. “But unfortunately, the facts will reveal that in fact she was very much involved.
“We uncovered the scheme and she benefited from it personally.”
The testimony by Ivanka Trump, who has kept a low profile since her father left the White House in January 2021, follows that of her father and her two brothers, Don Jr and Eric.
Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, took the stand on Monday and clashed repeatedly with the judge, denouncing the trial as a “disgrace” and “election interference.”
He and his sons do not risk going to jail, but face up to $250 million in penalties and potential removal from the management of the family company.
Even before opening arguments, Engoron ruled that James’s office had already shown “conclusive evidence” that Trump had overstated his net worth on financial documents by between $812 million and $2.2 billion between 2014 and 2021.
As a result, the judge ordered the liquidation of the companies managing the assets in question, such as the Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street skyscrapers in Manhattan.
That order is on hold pending appeal, but its potentially sweeping consequences highlight the high stakes for the former president.
The civil fraud trial is one of several legal battles Trump faces as he seeks to recapture the presidency.
In March, Trump — who was impeached twice while in office — faces a federal trial in Washington on charges that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.