Judge Rules For Letitia James In Trump Org Fraud Case

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New York Judge Arthur Engoron has ruled in favor of a request from New York state Attorney General Letitia James for an independent monitor to oversee certain aspects of the Trump family business’s finances, although the individual to serve in that role hasn’t been selected yet.

James asked for a monitor amid a sweeping civil lawsuit from her team against the Trump company, which alleges that the former president’s business benefited — to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars — from deceptive statements of value for dozens of assets. The deception, which came up in specific terms during a Thursday court hearing on the request for a monitor, included misstatements about the size of property and vast differences in value. Amid developments including Trump’s registration of a new company, known as Trump Organization II, James became concerned about Trump both continuing with some of the challenged business practices as the case unfolds and moving assets to evade scrutiny or consequences. The monitor addresses these issues.

Their areas of supervision will include transfers of assets at the Trump company and future financial statements, which the business must continue to produce in connection to existing loan obligations. “Under Engoron’s ruling, the company and the Trump family are barred from transferring or selling assets without giving two weeks’ notice to the court,” The Washington Post reported. One of the points of concern has been keeping enough Trump assets in New York to potentially satisfy James’s push for the return of $250 million that she connected to the deceptive valuations. The monitor will also “screen any future reports of Trump’s net worth to financial and insurance institutions,” the Post added.

In court this week, the attorney general’s team outlined how they weren’t necessarily interested in scrutinizing the most granular details of the Trump business’s operations — just higher-level elements. Trump attorney Christopher Kise tried to undercut both the legitimacy of James’s underlying case and, more specifically, her push for a monitor, but Engoron sounded unconvinced of the Trump team’s arguments before Thursday’s proceedings ended. He pointed to some of the potentially serious gaps between past statements by the Trump Organization and reality, among other issues, questioning Kise about whether a difference between the reported size of a piece of property and its actual size of tens of thousands of square feet could be in good faith. (Kise said yes.) Kise also characterized the newly registered Trump business as oriented around consolidating payroll, presumably for efficiency’s sake. “The purpose of the formation of that company had nothing to do with this case,” Kise claimed in court Thursday.