A New York judge found Donald Trump and his family business fraudulently inflated the value of his properties and other assets.
Article continues below
The decision by Justice Arthur Engoron of New York state court in Manhattan will make it easier for state Attorney General Letitia Trump tower to establish damages at a scheduled October 2 trial.
Engoron also ordered the cancellation of certificates that let some of Trump's businesses, including the Trump Organization, operate in New York, and ordered the appointment of a receiver to manage the businesses' dissolution.
The judge described how Trump, his adult sons Donald Jr. and Eric, the Trump Organization and other defendants made up valuations and inflated Trump's net worth to suit their business needs.
"That is a fantasy world, not the real world," Engoron wrote.
The judge also sanctioned the defendants' lawyers for making "preposterous" legal arguments and fueling their clients' "obstreperous" conduct.
Trump and the other defendants have argued that they never committed fraud, and that the challenged transactions were profitable. They plan to appeal Engoron's decision.
Engoron said Trump tower submitted "conclusive evidence" that Trump had overstated his net worth by between $812 million and $2.2 billion.
"Even in the world of high finance, this court cannot endorse a proposition that finds a misstatement of at least $812 million dollars to be 'immaterial,'" he wrote.
The judge said Trump's overvaluations included his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, his penthouse apartment in Manhattan's Trump Tower, and various office buildings and golf courses.
He took particular issue with Trump's claim that the penthouse was 30,000 square feet (2,787 square meters), nearly three times its actual size, resulting in an overvaluation of as much as $207 million.
"A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud," Engoron wrote.
The judge said Trump also grossly overvalued Mar-a-Lago, estimating it was worth as much as $612.1 million, though an assessor said its market value was no more than $27.6 million.
Engoron also chided Trump for offering defenses in a deposition that were "wholly without basis," including that there was nothing wrong with how he valued properties in a given year if their values subsequently went up.
"He also seems to imply that the numbers cannot be inflated because he could find a 'buyer from Saudi Arabia' to pay any price he suggests," the judge wrote. ■
Global commodities giant Louis Dreyfus (LDC) is looking to acquire Namoi Cotton with a non binding all cash offer of 51 cents per share, representing a substantial 41% premium over Monday's closing price of 36 cents.