According to BBC News, a New York Judge has ruled that Donald Trump committed fraud by repeatedly misrepresenting his wealth by hundreds of millions of dollars. The ruling, part of a civil case brought against the former president and his family business, said he defrauded banks and insurers for years.
New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Mr Trump in September 2022, accusing him, his two adult sons and the Trump Organization of inflating the value of their properties by more than $2bn (£1.65bn) to suit the needs of their business. She claimed the defendants issued false records and financial statements in order to get better terms on loans and insurance deals, and to pay less tax.
The scathing decision on Tuesday was issued by Judge Arthur Engoron in the New York state court, after Ms James asked for a summary ruling before the trial begins. She argued that finding certain facts to be beyond dispute would speed up the trial.
In his ruling, Judge Engoron said “the documents here clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business”.
“That is a fantasy world, not the real world,” he wrote.
The judge determined that Mr Trump:
Overvalued Mar-a-Lago by 2,300% in one financial statement
Overvalued his penthouse at Trump Tower in New York by claiming that it was three times its actual size
“Absurdly” argued that calculating the area of the penthouse was subjective, ruling “a discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud”
Judge Engoron also ordered the cancellation of business certificates that allow some of the former president’s businesses, including the Trump Organization, to operate in New York.
The judge denied the Trump team’s request to throw out the case, and separately fined five Trump attorneys $7,500 each for making “preposterous” arguments already rejected by the court and fuelling what he called their clients’ “obstreperous” conduct.
The trial is scheduled to begin on 2 October and could last until at least December. Mr James is seeking $250m in penalties and a ban on Mr Trump doing business in his home state.
According to Reuters, Christopher Kise, a lawyer for Trump, said in a statement, “Today’s outrageous decision is completely disconnected from the facts and governing law,”.
“President Trump and his family will seek all available appellate remedies to rectify this miscarriage of justice.” He said.
Trump has however sued to delay the trial, accusing Engoron and James of ignoring the appeals court order to narrow the case.
He and the other defendants have said this made it impossible to prepare for trial because they did not know which claims they would have to defend against. The appeals court is expected to rule on the request for a delay this week.