Trump's Civil Fraud Trial: Lifelong Business Ban Decision Delayed, $370 Million Punishment Looms

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  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 02/01/2024
According to a court spokeswoman, the decision in the civil fraud trial of former President Donald Trump in Manhattan, which might result in a lifelong ban from doing business in New York, has been postponed until mid-February. During the closing arguments of the trial on January 11, Justice Arthur Engoron said that he wanted to provide a definitive judgment by January 31 in a highly anticipated ruling that may result in a $370 million punishment for the former president in addition to a lifelong business ban.

Alfred Baker, a spokesman for the New York State Office of Court Administration, said that the judge is now anticipated to give his ruling in early to mid-February after the provisional deadline of January 31 passed without a decision. According to CNBC, on February 1, Mr. Baker said, "That is the working strategy presently." The revised verdict timeframe, the spokeswoman said, is a “rough estimate” that is subject to change.

Mr. Baker's office did not promptly respond to an email asking for confirmation of the revised schedule and further information. Although the reason for Justice Engoron's prolonged delivery of the ruling remains unknown, rumors have it that the 12-page letter from a court-appointed monitor, which asserts that some aspects of President Trump's financial declaration seem inconclusive or lacking, may be the cause.

President Trump's lawyers, who have denied any wrongdoing and labeled the investigation as a political witch hunt, have taken issue with how the monitor described the financial filings.
Seven disclosure forms had mistakes, three were inconsistent, and five were clerical problems, according to the letter from the monitor, retired judge Barbara Jones.

The concerns raised by Ms. Jones, according to the legal team for President Trump, are unimportant in light of the thousands of pages of financial records she has obtained, which include financial disclosures made by the Trump Organization to outside parties, transactional documents, bank statements, and a plethora of tax-related paperwork.

Days before the anticipated Jan. 31 verdict, Trump lawyer Clifford Robert claimed in a letter to Justice Engoron that Ms. Jones's report had two main goals: first, to guarantee that the monitor would continue to receive "exorbitant" fees (more than $2.6 million and counting); second, to support the monitor's continued oversight of President Trump's business empire. Additionally, Mr. Robert questioned the  monitor's qualifications, citing what he called "several factual mistakes" in her report and calling it "misleading and deceptive."

He contended that the monitor's faults were exaggerated and that all of the issues she pointed out had been fixed. Mr. Robert said that the Monitor was manipulating insignificant financial details to support her continuous appointment and, thus, the payment of exorbitant fees totaling millions of dollars.

The main focus of the trial is on claims that the former president and his business, The Trump Organization, misled banks, insurers, and other parties by inflating his net worth and overvaluing his assets in papers used for loan applications and transactions.
Attorney General of New York Letitia James filed the lawsuit, first seeking a $250 million punishment but ultimately requesting a $370 million fine.

In a summary decision, Justice Engoron has already determined that President Trump and his business are accountable for deception. The trial's purpose was to resolve the remaining allegations of insurance fraud, conspiracy, and document falsification. James has asked for a wide range of sanctions against President Trump, such as a disgorgement of $370 million and a permanent prohibition on his dealings with any financial institution located in New York State or the state of New York.

Even before the trial began, the court issued an order for the immediate revocation of President Trump's company certifications and the liquidation of his LLCs. It is unclear how the judge would consider this notification. However, the defense claimed that the order would abruptly throw hundreds of Trump Organization workers' lives into turmoil, so an appeals court halted it for the length of the trial.

The former president maintains that the investigation is a politically motivated attempt to sabotage his bid for the presidency in 2024 and has denied any wrongdoing. In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, he is by far the front-runner. Additionally, President Trump has said that losing the lawsuit would have a devastating impact on New York City firms and may possibly force others to close their doors.


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