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Former US president Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower in New York on April 12, 2023. — AFP
Former US president Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower in New York on April 12, 2023. — AFP

Former US President Donald Trump’s commercial enterprise is shaken from its core after Judge Arthur Engoron’s ruling that found the 77-year-old billionaire liable for fraud and showing inflated worth of his assets to secure a better financial posture and the benefits associated with it.

The ruling was issued on the case investigated by the state’s Attorney General Letitia James, rescinding the licenses of the Trump Organization and other companies owned by Donald Trump and his adult sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump in his social media post Wednesday called the ruling a “political hack”, and said that Judge Engoron “must be stopped”.

According to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, the ruling pushed the former president already out of business.

While speaking with CNN, he said: “Those companies will end up being liquidated … the judge has already determined that the fraud existed.”

During the hearing, lawyers asked if the judge’s ruling meant Donald Trump’s assets to be sold, or if they could continue to operate under receivership.

Engoron noted that the issue would be addressed at the non-jury trial on October 2.

Trump’s attorneys said that the decision to rescind the licenses will be appealed alongside the decision.

An exterior view of Trump Tower in New York on April 12, 2023, as former US President Donald Trump was scheduled to return to New York City to prepare for a deposition in the Manhattan offices of New York State Attorney General Letitia James. — AFP
An exterior view of Trump Tower in New York on April 12, 2023, as former US President Donald Trump was scheduled to return to New York City to prepare for a deposition in the Manhattan offices of New York State Attorney General Letitia James. — AFP

If it fails, the edifice will come crashing down.

According to the Guardian, experts say the beginning would be marked by the sale of the actor-turned-politician’s most prestigious real estate assets including Trump Tower in New York, golf courses and resorts around the US.

It may also include his prized Mar-a-Lago club in Florida if it is termed to be a business operation instead of his primary residential home.

In Wednesday’s post, Trump denounced the value of Mar-a-Lago as $18 million, claiming it was worth “100 times more than he values it.”

William Black, corporate fraud investigator and distinguished scholar in residence for financial regulation at the University of Minnesota Law School said in a report: “In finance, once the dominoes start falling, it becomes basically impossible to save it.”

Black noted: “These properties are even more damaged goods today because of the success in demonstrating they are massively overvalued. The most likely thing, if you get an honest agent or receiver, they’re going to sell the properties at a loss. And when you’ve got a whole bunch of properties, with the first one you just desperately need to get some action and that gets discounted the most.”

The fraud investigator termed Engoron’s ruling “devastating”, maintaining that the billionaire’s insiders and employees would have incentive to come forward with more information if he lost his wealth and influence.

“Trump is monumentally, stupidly greedy in that he isn’t actually paying for a number of key lieutenants in terms of their legal needs, and they’re facing the financial collapse of their own, [such as] the Rudy Giulianis of this world. But a lot of folks can sink Trump.”

Donald Trumps residence in Mar-A-Lago, Palm Beach. — AFP/File
Donald Trump’s residence in Mar-A-Lago, Palm Beach. — AFP/File

“Having this ability to control all these assets, even if they’re massively overvalued, meant hope springs eternal among the Trump folks that he can use that money and influence to help them, but if Trump instead ends up bereft of control over the overwhelming bulk of his assets, and has lots of liabilities, sugar daddy goes away,” added Black.

To monitor the Trump Organization, Engoron appointed a retired federal judge Barbara Jones, who reported inconsistencies in financial disclosures last month.

“Donald Trump is no longer in business,” David Cay Johnston, author of the Trump-themed book The Big Cheat, wrote in DC Report.

“Barring a highly unlikely reversal by an appeals court, Trump’s business assets eventually will be liquidated since he cannot operate them without a business license. The various properties are likely to be sold at fire sale prices and certainly not for top dollar when liquidation begins, probably after all appeals are exhausted.”

“I give Trump’s chances of prevailing on appeal at somewhere between zero and nothing except perhaps on some minor procedural point, which you can be sure Trump will describe as complete vindication.”

Joyce Vance, a retired US attorney and University of Alabama law school professor, called Engoron’s ruling “justice”.

“This is New York’s corporate death penalty, applied to Trump because of years of misconduct,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

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