Former US President Donald Trump and his family business have been found guilty of fraud by a New York judge.
The ruling, issued by Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York state court in Manhattan, came as a result of a civil lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The lawsuit accused Trump and the Trump Organization of inflating their assets and net worth by billions of dollars for more than a decade.
In his ruling, Engoron stated that James had successfully proven that Trump and his business had falsely valued several properties, including his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, his penthouse apartment in Manhattan’s Trump Tower, and various office buildings and golf courses.
Engoron also criticized Trump for providing baseless defenses during a deposition, where he claimed that the values of his properties had increased since submitting financial statements and that he could easily find a buyer willing to pay any price he suggested, even from Saudi Arabia.
The lawsuit was filed in September 2022 and sought to recover millions of dollars in damages and fines from Trump and his companies for bank and insurance fraud.
James said Trump’s net worth increased by as much as $2.23 billion and by as much as $3.6 billion, based on financial statements from banks and insurance companies.
James claimed the price increase allowed Trump to secure loans, insurance policies, tax breaks, and other business benefits he wouldn’t have had otherwise.
He said the fraud also harmed the public interest by undermining the integrity of financial markets and regulators.
The trial was scheduled for October 2 and could last until December 2023.
The trial will determine the amount of damages and penalties that President Trump and his company must pay.