After 11 weeks of a high-tension trial, the future of Donald Trump’s business empire, on which the populist has based a large part of his image, now finds itself in the hands of New York justice.
Imminently, Judge Arthur Engoron is preparing to determine the amount of money that the ex-president and his co-defendants will have to pay for the vast fraud for which they have already been found responsible. Another possible blow for the Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, already subjected last week to an exemplary fine of US$83 million in the defamation case brought against him by journalist and author E. Jean Carroll. Explanations.
What are the accusations against Trump?
The civil lawsuit filed against the real estate mogul by New York Attorney General Letitia James targets the Trump Organization and several senior officials of the empire, including the ex-president’s two sons, Eric and Donald Jr. In essence, state justice accuses them of having “knowingly and intentionally” inflated the net value of the assets of the billionaire’s companies, from 2.23 to 3.6 billion, between 2011 and 2021, and this, by way to obtain more generous loans or lower rates from banks and insurance companies.
Nearly 200 financial evaluations were scrutinized. The example of Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, the iconic residence of the populist, is also glaring: the courts value the property at 18 million dollars, while Trump’s real estate division speaks of it as a jewel worth half a billion, or 25 times more. Last September, at the opening of the trial, the ex-president, angry, even pushed on his social network the overvaluation of this property even further, mentioning an amount of 1.8 billion, or 100 times more .
In his first judgment, Arthur Engoron spoke of “an imaginary world” created by the billionaire to advance his business. An assessment can be based on different criteria and analyzed in different ways, he admitted, “but a lie is a lie.”
What is at stake for the ex-president?
Judge Engoron’s decision is expected to address six claims of conspiracy, publication of false financial statements, falsification of business records and insurance fraud, among others.
After demanding $250 million, the attorney general now estimates that Trump and his accomplices should pay a fine of $370 million as restitution for ill-gotten gains.
Donald Trump’s responsibility in this affair has already been recognized by Judge Engoron, who last September ordered the dissolution of his business empire. The court canceled the business certificates of many of Donald Trump’s New York companies, including that of the Trump Organization, a sprawling structure made up of 500 separate business entities.
The procedure was, however, suspended while waiting for the courts to hear the appeals filed by the ex-president’s lawyers.
The judge’s decision could force Donald Trump to liquidate iconic buildings of his empire, including Trump Tower, 40 Wall Street or the family estate called Seven Springs, located in Westchester County, New York.
What effect on Donald Trump’s electoral campaign?
Politicizing justice: this is what the ex-president has been doing since the start of this affair, who has taken advantage of each appearance before the court to denounce a “political witch hunt”, of which he poses as the victim.
There were numerous spats between the famous accused and the judge, who, on two occasions, imposed silence on Donald Trump because of the numerous comments incriminating the justice system and its representatives made by the ex-president outside from the courtroom. He subsequently fined him US$15,000 for non-compliance with the gag order.
Trump also defied, on January 11, the decision of the judge who refused him to speak in court at the conclusion of these fraud trials.
“I am an innocent man and I was persecuted by someone running for office,” Donald Trump said in court, while referring to Letitia James, a Democrat who tried to run for governor of New York in the 2022 elections, but did not last the race until the end. “They want to make sure I don’t win again [un scrutin] “, he added.
The ex-president’s victimizing communication during this trial was profitable for him, since it allowed him to raise thousands of dollars from his electoral base rather inclined to support him in his setbacks with the country’s justice system, rather than ‘to condemn him.
As of October 2023, the estimated net worth of the Trump empire is $2.6 billion according to Forbesincluding $426 million in cash and liquid assets.
If Judge Engoron were to pay a fine of 370 million to the ex-president, the sanction, combined with that pronounced in the civil suit brought by E. Jean Carroll for defamation, would empty the republican’s liquidity, and reduce the value total of its real estate empire by 15%, according to Bloomberg.