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Trump ordered to pay $454 million in fines and interest in NY business fraud case

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Trump ordered to pay $454 million in fines and interest in NY business fraud case

Former U.S. President Donald Trump walks outside the courtroom on the day of a court hearing on charges of falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment to a porn star before the 2016 election, in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., February 15, 2024.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

A New York judge on Friday ordered Donald Trump to pay about $454 million in total penalties as part of his ruling in the former president’s civil business fraud trial.

The staggering figure includes about $355 million in disgorgement, a term for returning ill-gotten gains, plus more than $98 million in prejudgment interest that will accrue every day until it is paid, according to a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office.

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron also barred Trump from running a business in New York for three years.

The former president also faces a three-year ban on applying for loans from financial institutions registered with the state.

“New York means business in combating business fraud,” Engoron wrote in the 92-page ruling.

The judge delivered the final decision from the trial, which was held without a jury.

“We’ve employed tens of thousands of people in New York, and we pay taxes like few other people have ever paid in New York,” Trump said in remarks at his Mar-a-Lago resort after the ruling. “They don’t care about that. It’s a state that’s going bust because everybody’s leaving.”

His attorney Chris Kise said in a statement earlier Friday that Trump “will of course appeal.”

The former president “remains confident the Appellate Division will ultimately correct the innumerable and catastrophic errors made by a trial court untethered to the law or to reality,” Kise said.

The appeals process could take several years to resolve.

The explosive trial stemmed from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit accusing Trump, his two adult sons, his company and top executives of fraudulently inflating Trump’s assets to boost his stated net worth and obtain various financial perks.

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference following a ruling against former U.S. President Donald Trump ordering him to pay $354.9 million and barring him from doing business in New York State for three years, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., February 16, 2024. 

David Dee Delgado | Reuters

“There simply cannot be different rules for different people,” James said in a statement celebrating the ruling Friday afternoon.

“Everyday Americans cannot lie to a bank to get a mortgage to buy a home, and if they did, our government would throw the book at them,” James said.

James had asked Engoron to ban Trump for life from New York’s real estate industry, and for $370 million in disgorgement.

Instead, Engoron fined Trump $354,868,768 in disgorgement. He also ordered Trump to pay a total of $98.6 million in prejudgment interest, which will accrue at an annual rate of 9%.

The grand total, including disgorgement and interest, for all defendants in the case: just under $464 million.

Of that sum, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., who took over the Trump Organization after their father became president in 2017, have been ordered to pay more than $4 million each.

Eric and Donald Jr. also face two-year bans from serving as officers or directors of any New York corporation or legal entity.

Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric Trump arrive at New York Supreme Court for former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial on November 02, 2023 in New York City. 

David Dee Delgado | Getty Images

Co-defendants Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, and the company’s comptroller, Jeffrey McConney, are permanently banned from controlling the finances of a New York business, Engoron ruled.

But the judge vacated his own prior directive to cancel the defendants’ business certificates, meaning he is no longer pursuing what some legal experts described as a “corporate death penalty” for the Trump Organization.

The decision is only the latest court-ordered punishment imposed on Trump, who is running for president while dealing with numerous criminal and civil lawsuits. Last month, a jury in a separate civil case in New York federal court ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll when he responded to her claim that he had raped her in the mid-1990s.

Trump is the clear front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, setting up a likely rematch with President Joe Biden, who beat him in 2020.

Lawyers for Trump and the other defendants quickly blasted Friday’s ruling, accusing the judge and the prosecutor of political bias and warning that the outcome will drive business away from New York.

“Countless hours of testimony proved that there was no wrongdoing, no crime, and no victim,” Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a statement.

But Engoron wrote in his ruling that the statute used in the case does not require that a victim lose money.

“It is undisputed that defendants have made all required payments on time; the next group of lenders to receive bogus statements might not be so lucky,” he wrote.

“Defendants submitted blatantly false financial data” as they sought to borrow more money at better loan rates, “resulting in fraudulent financial statements,” Engoron wrote.

He also pointed to the Trump team’s legal defenses, saying they proved the company and its officers would keep operating the same way they always had unless he forced them to change.

“When confronted at trial with the statements, defendants’ fact and expert witnesses simply denied reality,” the judge wrote.

Their “refusal to admit error” led the judge to conclude “that they will engage in it going forward unless judicially restrained.”

“Indeed, Donald Trump testified that, even today, he does not believe the Trump Organization needed to make any changes based on the facts that came out during this trial,” Engoron wrote.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological.”

Read more on this Trump fraud trial

Trump has frequently raged against his many legal battles as “witch hunts,” claiming they are part of a Biden administration-backed conspiracy to tank his political ambitions.

He vociferously denied all wrongdoing in the New York fraud case, blaring his claims of total innocence on social media, at the courthouse and even on the witness stand.

Trump claimed to be worth far more than what was reported on his financial statements, while asserting that a disclaimer on the records protected him from liability for any inaccuracies.

But Trump and the other defendants were found liable for fraud by Engoron before the trial even began.

In a bombshell pretrial ruling, Engoron granted summary judgment on James’ main cause of action — that the defendants committed fraud in violation of New York law.

Justice Arthur Engoron speaks during the trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump, his adult sons, the Trump Organization and others in a civil fraud case brought by state Attorney General Letitia James, at a Manhattan courthouse, in New York City, U.S., October 3, 2023. 

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

Engoron found that Trump’s statements of financial condition between 2014 and 2021 overvalued his assets between $812 million and $2.2 billion.

The ruling razed Trump’s defense claims, accusing him and his co-defendants of trying to convince the court to “not believe its own eyes.”

The trial was conducted to determine the amount to be paid in penalties and resolve other claims of wrongdoing from James’ lawsuit.

The trial also doubled as a soapbox for Trump to air his grievances about his perceived political foes, including those sitting feet away from him in court.

On the witness stand, Trump railed against Engoron and James while defending the values that were reported on his statements of financial condition. Trump also tore into another key witness, his former fixer and personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who testified that Trump had directed him to falsely manipulate his net worth.

Trump’s venting brought consequences. On the second day of the trial, Engoron imposed a narrow gag order after Trump repeatedly targeted the judge’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, who sat in court.

Trump violated the gag order twice within four weeks, catching fines totaling $15,000.

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