Donald Trump ordered to pay US$355m in business fraud case

NEW YORK, Feb 17: Former US president Donald Trump and his business organisations were ordered to pay as much as US$355 million in penalties on Friday in a business fraud case lodged by New York State Attorney-General Letitia James.

In order to borrow more money and at lower rates, Trump and the entities he controls submitted blatantly false financial data to the accountants, resulting in fraudulent financial statements, said a decision and order by Arthur F. Engoron, a judge of New York County Supreme Court.

“Defendants’ fact and expert witnesses simply denied reality, and defendants failed to accept responsibility or to impose internal controls to prevent future recurrences” at trial, said Engoron in summary of a 92-page document.

The judge continued the appointment of an independent monitor, ordered the installation of an independent director of compliance and limited defendants’ right to conduct business in New York for a few years.

In particular, Trump; Allen Weisselberg, former chief financial officer of the Trump Organisation, and Jeffrey McConney, former Trump Organisation controller, were banned from serving as an officer or director in any corporation or other legal entity in New York for three years.

Weisselberg and McConney were permanently banned from serving in the financial control function of any New York corporation or similar business entity in the state.

Moreover, Weisselberg as well as Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, the sons of Donald Trump, were fined US$1 million, US$4.01 million and US$4.01 million, respectively.

Eric and Trump Jr criticised the judgment and Donald Trump’s lawyer, Chris Kise, indicated a plan to appeal.

The trial for the case began on Oct 2, 2023, and concluded on Jan 11, 2024, with Donald Trump appearing in the court multiple times.