Trump to appeal $355 million civil fraud trial ruling

A United States federal court judge Arthur Engoron, on Friday ordered former president Donald Trump to pay $355 million as a penalty fee for inflating his net worth to falsely sway banks for loans under favourable interests and rates.

But Mr Trump’s lawyers denounced the ruling as a “tyrannical abuse of power,” vowing to appeal the judgment.

Apart from being fined, Mr Trump was also barred from running any business in New York for three years, and his two sons, Eric and Donald Jr, got a two-year ban and a $4 million fine.

The court tried to determine whether Deutsche Bank and other banks gave loans at favourable rates to Mr Trump’s company based on his fraudulent financial statements, and more significantly, whether the banks wouldn’t have granted the loans if Mr Trump had not exaggerated his net worth.

New York Attorney-General Letiticia James and her team of lawyers argued that by inflating his worth, the former president priced out sincere borrowers who had tendered genuine financial records to seek loans in banks.

“It prices out honest borrowers and can lead to more catastrophic results,” asserted Kevin Wallace, a prosecuting lawyer, on Friday. “That’s why it’s important for the court to take the steps to protect the marketplace to prevent this from happening again.”

Ms James argued that Mr Trump was able to save at least $168 million on loans with his company’s fabricated net worth.

The interest on the fine raised the total penalty fee to $450 million, according to Ms James, who said the judge asked the former president to pay with interest.

But Alina Habba, Mr Trump’s attorney called the decision, “a manifest injustice — plain and simple.”

“Given the grave stakes, we trust that the appellate division will overturn this egregious verdict,” Ms Habba said in a statement.

Mr Kise, another lawyer on Mr Trump’s team, stated that “the sobering future consequences of this tyrannical abuse of power do not just impact President Trump. When a court willingly allows a reckless government official to meddle in the lawful, private and profitable affairs of any citizen based on political bias, America’s economic prosperity and way of life are at extreme risk of extinction.’’

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