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Fraud: Trump fined $355m, banned from doing business in New York

A New York judge ordered Donald Trump to pay $355 million over fraud allegations and banned him from running companies in the state for three…

A New York judge ordered Donald Trump to pay $355 million over fraud allegations and banned him from running companies in the state for three years Friday in a major blow to his business empire and financial standing.

Trump – almost certain to be the Republican presidential nominee this November – was found liable for unlawfully inflating his wealth and manipulating the value of properties to obtain favourable bank loans or insurance terms.

Trump accused President Joe Biden of driving the case, calling it “weaponization against a political opponent who’s up a lot in the polls”, and vowed to appeal.

As the case was civil, not criminal, there was no threat of imprisonment. But Trump said ahead of the ruling that a ban on conducting business in New York state would be akin to a “corporate death penalty.”

Trump, facing 91 criminal counts in other cases, has seized on his legal woes to fire up supporters and denounce his likely opponent, Biden, claiming that court cases are “just a way of hurting me in the election.”

However, Judge Arthur Engoron said the financially shattering penalties are justified by Trump’s behaviour.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” Engoron said of Trump and his two sons, who were also defendants, in his scathing ruling.

“They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money… Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways,” he added, referring to the perpetrator of a massive Ponzi scheme.

Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. were also found liable in the case and ordered to pay more than $4 million each, prompting Don Jr. to claim on social media that “political beliefs” had determined the outcome.

The Trump Organization, an avowedly family business, will also be forced by the ruling to allow in an independent compliance director answerable to the court.

Legal whirlwind 
The ruling caps a whirlwind legal week for Trump.

Trump appeared in a New York court Thursday ahead of a criminal trial, where he faces charges of illegally covering up hush money payments. It will be the first criminal trial of a former US president.

Trump’s lawyers were also representing him in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is accused of conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election, which he lost to Biden.

A separate trial on Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election is on hold in Washington, DC, while Trump attempts to assert presidential immunity.

The twice-impeached former president is due to go on trial in Florida in May on charges of taking troves of highly secret documents when he left the presidency and thwarting officials trying to recover them.

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