Donald Trump fined 364 million dollars in civil fraud case

A New York judge imposed a 364 million dollars (£288 million) penalty on Donald Trump, his companies and some executives on Friday, ruling that they engaged in a yearslong scheme to dupe banks and others with financial statements that inflated the former president’s wealth.

Mr Trump will not have to pay out the money immediately as an appeals process plays out, but the verdict still is a stunning setback for the former president.

The judge called the civil fraud at the heart of the trial a “venial sin, not a mortal sin”.

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Former President Donald Trump was also banned from holding executive office at a New York company (Mary Altaffer/AP)

“Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways,” wrote Mr Engoron.

He said their “complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological.”

“The frauds found here leap off the page and shock the conscience,” the judge added.

Mr Trump also was barred from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation for three years.

Trump Fraud Lawsuit
Donald Trump has blended his court appearances with campaigning as he seeks another term in the White House (Michael Santiago/AP)

Mr Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba called the verdict “manifest injustice” and “the culmination of a multi-year, politically fuelled witch hunt”.

Judge Arthur Engoron issued his decision after a two-and-a-half-month trial, which saw the Republican presidential front-runner bristling under oath that he was the victim of a rigged legal system.

Mr Trump and his companies were ordered to pay 355 million dollars (£288 million). His eldest sons, Trump Organisation Executive Vice Presidents Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, each were ordered to pay four million dollars (£3.1 million).

Former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg was ordered to pay one million (£793,600).

Mr Trump called the verdict a “Complete and Total sham”.

Trump Hush Money
Former President Donald Trump was fined 364 million dollars (Mary Altaffer/AP)

The stiff penalty was a victory for New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who sued Mr Trump over what she said was not just harmless bragging but years of deceptive practices as he built the multinational collection of skyscrapers, golf courses and other properties that catapulted him to wealth, fame and the White House.

The total 364 million dollar fine, which Ms James’ office said grows to 450 million dollars (£357 million), adding interest, keeps the Trump Organisation in business.

The judge backed away from an earlier ruling that would have dissolved the former president’s companies. But if upheld, the verdict will force a shakeup at the top of the company.

Trump Fraud Lawsuit
Justice Arthur Engoron ruled against Trump, imposing a 364 million dollar penalty over what he ruled was a yearslong scheme to dupe banks and others with financial statements that inflated the former president’s wealth (Erin Schaff/The New York Times/AP)

“Now, Donald Trump is finally facing accountability for his lying, cheating and staggering fraud. Because no matter how big, rich or powerful you think you are, no one is above the law,” Ms James said.

Mr Trump’s lawyers had said even before the verdict that they would appeal.

The suit is one of many legal headaches for Mr Trump as he campaigns for a return to the White House.

He has been indicted four times in the last year — accused in Georgia and Washington DC of plotting to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, in Florida of hoarding classified documents, and in Manhattan of falsifying business records related to hush money paid to porn actor Stormy Daniels on his behalf.

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