In a significant blow to former U.S. President Donald Trump, a judge in New York ruled that Trump and his family business artificially inflated the value of his properties and other assets. Justice Arthur Engoron of New York state court in Manhattan found that Trump and his adult sons, the Trump Organization, and other defendants fabricated valuations and inflated Trump’s net worth for their own business purposes. The judge’s scathing decision makes it easier for the state Attorney General, Letitia James, to establish damages at an upcoming trial. Engoron also ordered the cancellation of business certificates for some of Trump’s enterprises and the appointment of a receiver to manage their dissolution.
The judge criticized the defendants’ lawyers for making “preposterous” legal arguments and fueling their clients’ “obstreperous” conduct. Trump and the other defendants maintain that they did not commit fraud, and they plan to appeal Engoron’s decision. If upheld, the ruling could have a severe impact on Trump’s business ventures, as the cancellation of business certificates may impede his ability to generate profit. Bill Black, a distinguished scholar in residence for financial regulation, highlighted that the decision could potentially require the liquidation of limited liability companies that hold a significant portion of Trump’s assets.
Trump’s legal battle in New York coincides with his pursuit of the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Despite the criminal charges he faces in multiple cases, he has maintained a strong position in the race. In response to the ruling, Trump took to his Truth Social platform to denounce the accusations of fraud as “ridiculous and untrue.” He described the judge as “DERANGED” and claimed that this was a politically motivated effort to undermine him. Trump has frequently dismissed the indictments against him as “witch hunts,” although he lacks evidence to support his claims. The outcome of the legal proceedings could have far-reaching consequences for Trump’s political ambitions.