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  5. Trump Organization says $364 million fraud ruling will fuel the 'exodus of companies from New York' — but Trump's frauds may make him an outlier

Trump Organization says $364 million fraud ruling will fuel the 'exodus of companies from New York' — but Trump's frauds may make him an outlier

Kelsey Vlamis   

Trump Organization says $364 million fraud ruling will fuel the 'exodus of companies from New York' — but Trump's frauds may make him an outlier
  • The Trump Organization, Trump, and lieutenants face a $364 million judgment in a civil fraud case.
  • The company said the ruling will cause the "exodus" of other New York businesses.

After former President Donald Trump was hit with a nearly $355 million judgment in his civil fraud case, the Trump Organization said the ruling could cause businesses to flee the state of New York for fear of being targeted.

"Today's ruling is a gross miscarriage of justice," a spokesperson for the Trump Organization said in a statement after the ruling, adding, "Every member of the New York business community, no matter the industry, should be gravely concerned with this gross overreach and brazen attempt by the Attorney General to exert limitless power where no private or public harm has been established."

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ordered Trump, his sons, and former CFO Allen Weisselberg to pay a total cash penalty of $364 million for their roles in manipulating the value of their assets in order to get better deals on loans.

Interest could add another $100 million to the total, New York Attorney General Letitia James told reporters on Friday in a celebratory statement that called Trump's ego "staggering."

The judgment also says Trump cannot run any businesses in New York for three years, while his sons Eric and Don Jr. are barred for two years, among other penalties.

Trump denounced the verdict and denied wrongdoing in the case, which resulted from a yearslong investigation by James.

"If allowed to stand, this ruling will only further expedite the continuing exodus of companies from New York," the Trump Organization spokesperson said.

Trump's fraud case is extreme, according to the judge

But Trump's proven frauds are so extreme — the judge found he added more than $2 billion to his bottom line each year, in a decade of annual financial statements — that some experts say his getting caught and punished likely won't impact other businesses.

"This decision is unprecedented, but I don't think we'll necessarily see similar cases against other individuals," Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Business Insider. "Trump is unique in that he stubbornly thumbs his nose at our justice system and finds himself in legal turmoil. Sometimes, it's better to cooperate with authorities or to settle a civil lawsuit rather than fight a losing battle."

Instead, Rahmani said Trump again chose to litigate a losing case.

The judge in the fraud trial basically said as much. In his 92-page verdict, Engoron hammered in on Trump's refusal to admit any errors.

"Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological," he wrote. "They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again. This is a venial sin, not a mortal sin. Defendants did not commit murder or arson. They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways."

The judge also noted that this was not the first time the Trump Organization or related entities had been found to have engaged in fraud, citing prior cases, including one that involved Trump University.

"This is not defendants' first rodeo," Engoron wrote.

It's also worth noting the exceptional circumstances that led to the investigation into the Trump Organization.

While running for attorney general in 2018, James promised to aggressively investigate Trump's business dealings.

The fraud investigation that led to this ruling started in 2019 after Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez questioned former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen during a congressional hearing.

When Ocasio-Cortez pressed Cohen on whether Trump had ever inflated assets to an insurance company, he answered affirmatively.

James later credited the exchange with kicking off the probe.

"I will remind everyone that this investigation only started after Michael Cohen, the former lawyer, his former lawyer, testified before Congress and shed light on this misconduct," James said in 2022.

So don't expect New York businesses to pack their bags and ship out to New Jersey anytime soon over this.

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