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Trump slammed $354.9m fine, 3-year ban for overstating net worth

A court in the United States has ordered former President Donald Trump to pay $354.9 million in penalties for fraudulently overstating his net worth to dupe lenders.

Justice Arthur Engoron, a New York judge ruled on Friday, handing Trump another legal setback in a civil case that imperils his real estate empire.

Justice Engoron, in a sharply worded decision issued after a contentious three-month trial in Manhattan, also banned Trump, who is running to regain the presidency this year, from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation for three years.

However, Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba vowed to appeal.

Engoron cancelled his prior ruling from September ordering the “dissolution” of companies that control pillars of Trump’s real estate empire, saying on Friday that this was no longer necessary because he is appointing an independent monitor and compliance director to oversee Trump’s businesses.

Trump and the other defendants in the case, Engoron wrote in the ruling, “are incapable of admitting the error of their ways”.

He added: “Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological.

“Instead, they adopt a ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ posture that the evidence belies.”

The lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Trump and his family businesses of overstating his net worth by as much $3.6 billion a year over a decade to fool bankers into giving him better loan terms.

Trump, who faces criminal charges in four other cases, has called the lawsuit a political vendetta by James, a Democrat.

In posts on his social media platform, Trump called Engoron “crooked”, James “corrupt”, and the case against him “Election Interference” and a “Witch Hunt”.

“This ‘decision’ is a complete and total sham. We cannot let injustice stand, Trump said.

Justice Engoron, who decided the case without a jury, also barred Trump and his companies named in the suit from applying for loans from any financial institution chartered in New York for three years, which could curtail his ability to obtain credit from major U.S. banks.

Reuters quoted the judge as saying that Trump and his companies’ past run-ins with the law were part of the reason for the stiff penalties. The Trump Organization was found guilty of criminal tax fraud in 2022. Two other entities Trump ran previously settled allegations of wrongdoing brought by New York state.

Trump’s adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric, also were defendants in the case. The judge ordered them to pay $4 million apiece.

Their lawyer Clifford Robert called the decision a “gross injustice” and said he believes it will be overturned on appeal.

Former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to tax fraud in a separate criminal case, was ordered to pay $1 million and barred for life from managing any New York company’s finances.

James said the penalties paid by all defendants totalled more than $450 million, including interest.

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