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New York AG Requests $370M Penalty and Real Estate Industry Ban for Trump

New York Attorney General Letitia James has made a formal request to the court, seeking a fine of over $370 million and a lifetime ban from the New York real estate industry for former President Donald Trump.

This move comes just a week before the conclusion of the civil fraud trial, where Trump and his associates are accused of engaging in fraudulent business practices spanning a decade.

James’ Request

Credit: Rally And Vigil Held In New York City To Stand With Israel After Hamas Attack. October 10, 2023, New York, New York, USA: Attorney General of New York Letitia James speaks at a New York Stands With Israel vigil and rally — Photo by thenews2.com

In a written brief submitted ahead of the closing arguments scheduled for January 11, Attorney General James proposed that Trump be fined an amount exceeding $370 million as restitution for what she alleges to be a decade of fraudulent conduct. James also called for a permanent prohibition on Trump, along with his former colleagues Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney, from participating in New York’s real estate sector.

Accusations Against Trump

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The allegations against Trump and key figures within the Trump Organization revolve around a long-term scheme where they purportedly inflated Trump’s net worth on financial statements. This alleged manipulation aimed to secure more favorable loan terms.

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Trump’s Defense and Denial

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Former President Trump has consistently denied any wrongdoing, with his legal team asserting that the alleged financial inflation was a result of Trump’s business acumen. They argue that Trump’s elevated valuations were not fraudulent but rather a reflection of his expertise.

Request for Lifetime Ban

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Attorney General James contends that preventing future fraudulent activities necessitates a lifetime ban on Trump’s involvement in New York’s real estate industry.

She also claims that the Trump Organization, under the leadership of Eric and Donald Trump Jr., lacks effective governance and should be placed under court-appointment monitoring for at least five years to ensure compliance with the law.

Increased Fine Request

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The initial request for disgorgement amounted to approximately $250 million, but James has now increased this figure to over $370 million in her recent filing. She argued that Trump, his sons, and top executives were fully aware of their involvement in the fraudulent activities and personally benefited from them.

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Breakdown of the Fine Request

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The bulk of the requested fine arises from business loans that the Trump Organization obtained through allegedly fraudulent financial statements. James contends that Trump’s actions cost lenders approximately $168,040,168, which the banks would have retained if Trump had provided accurate asset valuations.

Additional Profits and Severance Agreements

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James further argued that the Trump Organization used deceptive documents to secure a contract to renovate and operate a hotel in the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C., resulting in substantial profits. Profits from this venture reached $139,408,146, with Donald Trump personally earning $126,828,600, and his sons making $4,013,024 each.

Ferry Point Golf Course Sale

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The sale of Trump’s Ferry Point golf course in New York generated approximately $60 million in profit for the company. James claimed that Weisselberg and McConney benefited from these deals through generous severance packages, which were designed to restrict their cooperation with law enforcement investigations.

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Defense Arguments

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In their defense filing, Trump’s legal team argued that the attorney general’s theory for disgorgement was fundamentally flawed. They contended that no lenders had testified that they would have altered their actions had they been aware of Trump’s alleged misstatements.

Closing Statements and Judgment

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Closing arguments are scheduled for January 11, during which the opposing arguments will be presented before Judge Arthur Engoron.

The judge, who previously found Trump and his family business liable for business fraud, will consider these arguments in making a final ruling on the remaining six causes of action and determining the financial penalty, if any, to impose.

Judge’s Previous Stance

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Judge Engoron, in his previous opinions, expressed skepticism about Trump’s defense and denied the former president’s request to dismiss the case. He described Trump’s claims as potentially fraudulent and signaled his doubts about their validity.

The conclusion of this high-profile trial will have significant implications for Trump’s legal standing and financial obligations.

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