Trump's civil fraud loss stops short of forcing him to dissolve businesses

 February 17, 2024

President Trump faced a significant legal setback with a monumental civil fraud ruling on Friday, yet amidst the turmoil, a glimmer of relief emerged: his businesses in New York were spared from dissolution.

Judge Arthur Engoron's highly anticipated decision, issued Friday, imposed hefty fines exceeding $350 million on Trump, with substantial sums also levied against his adult sons.

The problem

They were also barred from managing New York-based companies for a specified period.

This ruling, however, marked a reversal of Engoron's earlier directive issued in September.

Ahead of the 11-week bench trial, Engoron had determined that New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) had sufficiently substantiated the core allegations of her extensive fraud case against the former president. This led to an order to dissolve Trump’s New York business certificates, sparking concerns about potential repercussions for properties like Trump Tower.

A small victory

In Friday's ruling, Engoron rescinded this particular aspect of his prior decision.

He directed that his September ruling be amended "solely to the extent of vacating the directive to cancel defendants’ business certificates."

This alteration represents a significant departure, as Engoron's earlier ruling effectively stripped Trump of his authority to operate as a real estate magnate in New York, proposing the appointment of independent receivers to oversee the dissolution process.

Further details

In Friday's decision, Engoron acknowledged that a blanket dissolution of Trump’s companies "could implicate serious economic concerns."

Despite this adjustment, Engoron's overall ruling still delivers a substantial blow to Trump's business interests. It includes provisions banning Trump and his adult sons from holding officer or director positions in any New York corporation for multiple years. Additionally, they are barred from seeking loans from state-registered institutions for three years.

Engoron also mandated the appointment of an independent compliance director at the Trump Organization to ensure adherence to financial reporting requirements. Furthermore, a retired federal judge, Barbara Jones, will continue to oversee Trump’s business operations as an independent monitor.

The judge instructed Jones to provide a plan outlining the necessary authority for an effective and enhanced oversight process within 30 days.

While the ruling brings some respite for Trump's business endeavors, its broader implications underscore the continued legal challenges facing the former president and the enduring scrutiny surrounding his financial affairs. As the legal saga unfolds, the fate of Trump's empire remains uncertain as he continues his comeback bid for the White House.

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