In a significant legal setback for former President Donald Trump, a New York appeals court has rejected his attempt to dismiss a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Letitia James.
The lawsuit accuses Trump and his family business, the Trump Organisation, of engaging in “staggering” fraud by misrepresenting asset values and net worth to obtain favorable terms from lenders and insurers. While the court narrowed the case and dismissed claims against Trump’s daughter Ivanka, it ruled that the lawsuit could proceed, with a trial scheduled for October 2.
The Appellate Division in Manhattan, in a unanimous decision, upheld James’ authority to investigate alleged fraud and illegality, even years after the suspected misconduct took place. However, the court cited statutes of limitations that prevented James from pursuing claims that arose before specific dates in 2014 and 2016, depending on the defendant. As a result, claims against Ivanka Trump were dismissed because they were filed too late.
“There is a mountain of evidence that shows Trump and the Trump Organisation falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for significant economic gain,” emphasised a spokeswoman for Attorney General Letitia James.
“This decision allows us to hold him accountable for that fraud, and we intend to do so.”
Donald Trump’s attorney, Christopher Kise, argued during oral arguments that James lacked the authority to involve herself in private transactions that took place years ago. However, James’ office countered that fraudulent actions by Trump could harm the integrity of banking, insurance, and real estate markets, affecting honest participants.
The court’s ruling paves the way for a highly anticipated trial in October, where Trump’s alleged fraudulent practices will be scrutinised. The outcome of the trial could have significant implications for Trump’s reputation and financial interests. With the lawsuit seeking damages of at least $250 million and aiming to prohibit the Trumps from operating businesses in New York, the case holds substantial weight in the legal and political arenas.
While Trump has consistently denied any wrongdoing, he has labeled the lawsuit, along with unrelated criminal indictments, as part of a Democratic “witch hunt.” Trump’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, also face legal action as defendants in the lawsuit.