Trump’s real estate empire is the only big business that has been threatened with dissolution under New York’s anti-fraud law without clear victims or loss, an Associated Press analysis found.
In reviewing close to 150 civil cases spanning 70 years, the AP found dissolution has been imposed just a dozen times — and never before under circumstances like Trump’s. Yet in Judge Arthur Engoron’s September ruling finding that Trump deceived banks and insurance companies by inflating his net worth and overvaluing assets, which is under appeal, he said Trump’s business certificates should be revoked and his companies should be turned over to “independent receivers” to manage their dissolution.
Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James alleged when she brought the lawsuit against Trump in 2022 that he perpetuated years of financial fraud to gain benefits while building his business.
Engoron is expected to clarify what he meant by “dissolution” and decide on the penalty Trump will pay in a ruling this week, per the AP.
“This is a basically a death penalty for a business,” Columbia University law professor Eric Talley told the AP. “Is he getting his just desserts because of the fraud, or because people don’t like him?”
Bank officials testified during the trial that it is “not unusual” for the bank to adjust a client’s financial statements, and emails and documents introduced by Trump’s legal team revealed the bank was eager to land him as a client. Trump’s attorneys wrote in their closing arguments that New York Attorney General Letitia James did not show any “real-world impact” from his financial statements.
In prior cases where businesses were shuttered — such as a breast cancer nonprofit that spent all of its donations on the directors rather than research and survivor support and a mental health facility that neglected patients while taking millions in public funds — there were victims, the AP found.
For the one small business that was dissolved in 1972 without victims, a company that wrote term papers for college students, it was argued that “the integrity of the educational process” was the victim, AP reported.
James asked in closing arguments that Trump be required to pay $370 million, $120 million higher than she initially sought, but did not argue for the sale of property, per the AP.
“Who suffered here? We haven’t seen a long list of victims,” University of Michigan law professor William Thomas said, per the AP.
Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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