N.Y. state seeks $370 million fine against Donald Trump — and lifetime ban from commercial real estate

0
28
N.Y. state seeks $370 million fine against Donald Trump — and lifetime ban from commercial real estate

New York Attorney General Letitia James asked a Manhattan judge on Friday for a bigger penalty — $370 million — alongside harsh sanctions against Republican former president Donald Trump and his real-estate business.

In a court filing that followed a tumultuous civil fraud trial in New York City that began in October, James asked Judge Arthur Engoron for a larger fine than initially proposed, a statewide permanent ban for Trump from the commercial real-estate industry, and an at least five-year industry ban for Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

James said in the Friday filing that Trump and his top executives “reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains through their unlawful conduct.”

The attorney general’s office previously wanted Trump fined $250 million, among other sanctions.

Engoron ruled before the trial that Trump and other defendants had engaged in fraud. The purpose of the trial has been to determine punishments, along with the adjudication of additional claims by James, including conspiracy, insurance fraud and business-record falsification.

Trump has denied the allegations and called James’s case against him “baseless.” A Trump Organization spokeswoman on Friday disputed the fraud claims, calling the proposed fine and sanctions “extraordinary” and “unprecedented” and “in a continued pursuit of her own political agenda,” in emailed comments to MarketWatch.

If James’s case is proven, it would be a stunning reversal of fortune for Trump in New York, his hometown until he decamped for Florida following his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The city, of course, was the hotbed for Trump’s expansion of his father’s less glamorous apartment rental business, Trump’s rise as a tabloid and then TV personality, and his political career.

Trump is currently the overwhelming favorite to win the Republican nomination for another run at the White House, according to national polls.

On Friday, James, a Democrat, repeated an earlier claim that Trump and other high-level executives at the Trump Organization committed “persistent” and “repeated” business fraud by inflating the former president’s personal wealth over roughly the past decade, including while Trump served as president.

Also see: Trump’s businesses got $7.8 million from 20 countries when he was president: report

“We have done nothing wrong and will continue to fight to protect our good name, our company and its valued employees,” the Trump Organization spokeswoman said.

The civil fraud case seeks to show that the value of much of Trump’s prized real estate was inflated between 2011 and 2021, resulting in more favorable terms on loans than otherwise would have been available.

Property valuations under scrutiny in the case included those on 40 Wall St., the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, and the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which was sold at an estimated profit of $100 million in May 2022, a year after Trump had left the White House.

Last year, Mazars, the Trump Organization’s longstanding accounting firm, quit, saying Trump financials from 2011 to 2020 should no longer be relied upon.

The next major step in the case is closing arguments, which are scheduled for Jan. 11.

Read on: Donald Trump tightens grip on landmark Manhattan skyscraper at center of New York court case

Mike Murphy contributed.

READ MORE