Former US President Donald Trump made an appearance at a Manhattan courthouse on Monday, where he is facing allegations of fraud. It is claimed that Trump lied about the value of his businesses and properties in order to obtain better loans and insurance premiums. If he loses the civil case, Trump could potentially be banned from doing business in New York.
Accompanied by his Secret Service detail, Trump arrived at the court and addressed reporters outside the building. He referred to the lawsuit against him as a “witch hunt” and a “disgrace,” accusing it of being fast-tracked to sabotage his potential 2024 election campaign. Trump vehemently asserted his innocence, stating, “There is no crime. The crime is against me.”
The lawsuit was filed against Trump and the Trump Organization in September of last year by New York Attorney General Letitia James. James is seeking $250 million in damages and wants to impose a ban on Trump from conducting business in the state. She alleges that Trump engaged in fraudulent practices for many years, inflating the value of his properties and companies for the purpose of deceiving banks and insurers.
Judge Arthur Engoron recently authorized the case to proceed, ruling that Trump had inflated the value of his assets by $2.23 to $3.6 billion. Among the properties that Engoron deemed overvalued were Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, his Trump Tower penthouse, as well as multiple golf courses and office buildings.
The Trump family strongly criticized Engoron’s ruling, especially his valuation of Mar-a-Lago at $18 million. According to Trump’s financial documents, the sprawling Palm Beach estate is estimated to be worth between $427 million and $612 million. Trump and his son Eric have both claimed on social media that the resort’s value exceeds a billion dollars. However, an anonymous Palm Beach real estate broker stated that Mar-a-Lago’s value is around $300 million, at a minimum. This estimate was supported by the fact that nearby undeveloped lots of land were listed for $150 and $200 million.
In addition to the civil suit, Trump faces numerous criminal charges. These charges include allegations of inciting the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill, interfering in the 2020 election, misreporting hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, and mishandling top-secret government documents after leaving the White House. Trump insists that these federal and state cases are part of a larger conspiracy orchestrated by President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party to prevent him from returning to the White House.
The outcome of the trial will have significant ramifications for Trump’s business empire and political future. If found guilty, he could face substantial financial penalties and a potential ban from conducting business in New York.