Donald Trump ordered by judge to face New York fraud lawsuit

Former US president accused of overvaluing his real estate company and his own net worth

A New York judge on Friday said former US president Donald Trump must face a lawsuit by the state’s attorney general accusing him of fraudulently overvaluing his namesake real estate company’s assets and his own net worth.

Attorney general Letitia James had sued Mr Trump, his adult children Donald jnr, Eric and Ivanka and the Trump Organization last September over an alleged scheme to inflate Mr Trump’s assets by billions of dollars through a decade of lies to banks and insurers, in what she called a “staggering” fraud.

Justice Arthur Engoron of the state supreme court in Manhattan rejected defence claims that Ms James waited too long to sue, fell short of establishing fraud, and should have better justified the $250 million of damages she is seeking.

He also said Ivanka Trump could be sued despite her claims she had not falsified valuations and not worked for the Trump Organization since 2017, saying she could be liable for participating in “continuing wrongs”.


The judge also decided not to sanction the defendants for making arguments including that Ms James was pursuing a political “witch hunt” and lacked legal authority to sue.

“Sophisticated defence counsel should have known better,” Justice Engoron wrote nonetheless.

Lawyers for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, Ms James said Mr Trump “engaged in years of extensive financial fraud to enrich himself and cheat the system,” and must defend himself in court.

She also wants to stop the Trumps from running businesses in New York, and ban Mr Trump and his company from acquiring real estate there for five years. An October 2nd trial is scheduled.

The lawsuit is one of many legal woes affecting Mr Trump, who is seeking another term as president in 2024.

They include criminal investigations related to the FBI's seizure of government documents from his Florida home, and his role in efforts to overturn or interfere with 2020 presidential election results.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is also conducting a criminal inquiry relating to Ms James’ civil case, and the Trump Organization faces a January 13th sentencing after being convicted of tax fraud in another New York case. – (Reuters)