New York prosecutor seeks $370M from Trump in fraud case
NEW YORK, United States (AFP)— New York’s attorney general is seeking $370 million from former president Donald Trump in a fraud case which has seen the real estate mogul accused of inflating the value of his properties, court documents showed Friday.
Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and his two eldest sons are accused of fraudulently inflating the value of real estate assets to receive more favourable bank loans and insurance terms.
“Record evidence… supports disgorgement of $370 million, plus pre-judgment interest,” said the filing, significantly more than the $250 million that New York Attorney General Letitia James previously said she would seek.
“The myriad deceptive schemes they employed to inflate asset values and conceal facts were so outrageous that they belie innocent explanation.
“Defendants offered no specific rebuttal to these calculations.”
The requested amount is linked to the “wrongdoer’s unlawful profits,” the filing said.
The amount to be paid will be determined by the judge, Arthur Engoron, whom Trump has repeatedly attacked on social media.
It will be released in his final decision and order, for which no date has yet been confirmed.
Trump, in a post on his Truth Social platform, lashed out at James, calling her “totally corrupt” and saying “I did nothing wrong.”
“My financial statements are great and very conservative,” he said. “This case should never have been brought.”
Trump’s lawyers rejected any notion of fraud, arguing that real estate valuations are subjective and the banks lending to the organisation had not lost any money.
Trump repeatedly took to social media during the case, saying it was “decided against me before it even started.”
During the trial Trump called the judge “crazy” and “unhinged,” and denounced James, who is Black, as “racist.”
Engoron responded by slapping Trump with two fines — one for $5,000, another for $10,000 — when he ruled the onetime reality television star had violated a partial gag order imposed after he bashed the judge’s clerk on social media.
Even before opening arguments, Engoron ruled that James’ 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 and the opulent Seven Springs private estate outside New York City.
That order is on hold pending appeal. But its potentially sweeping consequences highlight the high stakes for the former president, who has built his political persona on the image of successes described in his book “The Art of the Deal.”
This trial is only the tip of the legal iceberg for the candidate, as he also stares down four criminal trials set to unfold during the 2024 campaign season.
He is scheduled to stand trial on March 4 in Washington, charged by federal prosecutors with allegedly seeking to upend the results of the 2020 election in a concerted effort that led to the violent January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.
Trump also faces federal charges for allegedly mishandling top secret documents after he left the White House, and has been charged with racketeering in Georgia on accusations that he tried to overturn the 2020 election results in the southern state.
The states of Colorado and Maine have barred him from standing in their Republican presidential primaries on the grounds that he had engaged in an insurrection on January 6. Trump has challenged both rulings.
A congressional report claimed Thursday that Trump’s businesses received at least $7.8 million from foreign governments, including China, during his time in the White House, in violation of a constitutional ban on “foreign emoluments.”