Trump fined $355 mn, banned from NY business in fraud trial

A New York judge ordered Donald Trump to pay $355 million over fraud allegations and banned him from running companies in the state for three years Friday in a major blow to his business empire and financial standing.

Trump — almost certain to be the Republican presidential nominee this November — was found liable for unlawfully inflating his wealth and manipulating the value of properties to obtain favorable bank loans or insurance terms.

Trump lashed out on social media calling the ruling a “Total SHAM,” the judge in the case “crooked” and the prosecutor who brought it “totally corrupt.” His legal team said he would “of course” appeal.

As the case was civil, not criminal, there was no threat of imprisonment. But Trump said ahead of the ruling that a ban on conducting business in New York state would be akin to a “corporate death penalty.”

Trump, facing 91 criminal counts in other cases, has seized on his legal woes to fire up supporters and denounce his likely opponent, President Joe Biden, claiming that court cases are “just a way of hurting me in the election.”

However, Judge Arthur Engoron said the financially shattering penalties are justified by Trump’s behavior.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” Engoron said of Trump and his two sons, who were also defendants, in his scathing ruling.

“They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money… Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways,” he added, referring to the perpetrator of a massive Ponzi scheme.

Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. were also found liable in the case and ordered to pay more than $4 million each, prompting Don Jr. to claim on social media that “political beliefs” had determined the outcome.

Engoron also extended the mandate of retired judge Barbara Jones as an independent monitor of Trump’s business affairs, as well as ordering the appointment of an independent director of compliance to the Trump Organization, with candidates to be nominated by Jones.

“Conditions that Judge Engoron imposed, such as having Judge Jones monitor the Trump companies, may be onerous. I do expect an appeal,” said Richmond University law professor Carl Tobias.

It was as a property developer and businessman in New York that Trump built his public profile which he used as a springboard into the entertainment industry and ultimately the presidency.

The judge’s order was a victory for New York state Attorney General Letitia James. She had sought $370 million from Trump to remedy the advantage he is alleged to have wrongfully obtained, as well as having him barred from conducting business in the state.

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