Friday, March 1, 2024

New York attorney-general seeks $370mn from Donald Trump and his businesses -Dlight News

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The New York attorney-general has urged a judge to force Donald Trump and his businesses to pay $370mn for inflating the value of his real estate empire by billions of dollars over the course of a decade in order to secure favourable loans, an increase from the $250mn previously demanded.

The request from Letitia James comes at the end of a 44-day trial in Manhattan, which Trump often attended in person. Two of Trump’s sons and daughter Ivanka were among the witnesses who testified during the civil fraud trial, which featured angry exchanges between the court and the Trump legal team as well as the imposition of a gag order against the former president.

Trump and his co-defendants “reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains through their unlawful conduct” James’s lawyers wrote in a closing brief filed on Friday, outlining how properties from Mar-a-Lago and Park Avenue to Aberdeen were overvalued in an attempt to elicit loans from Deutsche Bank and others.

They said the $370mn demand reflected the sum of the interest the Trump businesses saved on four commercial real estate loans, the sale of a hotel and golf course, and the bonuses paid to the former president’s lieutenants at the Trump Organization, including Allen Weisselberg.

In their own closing brief, Trump’s lawyers reiterated their position that “if President Trump’s brand value is accounted for, President Trump is worth far more than is reflected on the [statements of financial condition].”

They added that there had been “no losses to any party, as the loans here were negotiated between very sophisticated parties, and all contractual obligations were paid”.

Judge Arthur Engoron already concluded on the eve of the trial that the former president committed fraud. The trial — which was conducted without a jury and will be decided by the judge — was set to determine whether Trump and his businesses also falsified business records and engaged in other illegal financial acts.

As well as a disgorgement, James’s office has asked the court to impose a lifetime ban on Trump working in the real estate industry in New York or serving as an officer or director of a business in the state. It is seeking similar five-year prohibitions for his sons Donald Jr and Eric.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in all matters, and dismissed the case as a partisan witch hunt meant to end his political career.

Closing arguments are set to begin on January 11.

The civil fraud case is among a pile of legal troubles Trump is facing as he campaigns for another four years in the White House. He is also charged in four separate criminal cases, including two from US Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith, one from the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, and another from the Manhattan district attorney. He has entered not-guilty pleas in all of those.

He is also fighting decisions in Colorado and Maine that have struck him from the presidential primary ballot in those states. Trump has urged the US Supreme Court to overturn the Colorado ruling, and has appealed against the Maine decision in a state court.

Despite the legal pressure Trump is the clear frontrunner to secure the Republican presidential nomination in a process that kicks off in the coming weeks.

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