(MENAFN- Live Mint) "Former US President Donald Trump attacked New York's attorney general and the judge overseeing his civil fraud trial as it began on Monday. A state lawyer accused Trump of generating more than $100 million by lying about his real estate empire.
Attorney General Letitia James is seeking at least $250 million in fines, a permanent ban against Trump and his sons Donald Jr and Eric from running businesses in New York, and a five-year commercial real estate ban against Trump and the Trump Organization, Reuters reported.
Testimony in the Manhattan courtroom began following opening statements, with Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars USA and longtime accountant for Trump's businesses, as the state's first witness.Speaking to media persons, Trump said that the case was a“scam”, a“sham”, and a“political vendetta” by James, and during a lunch break called the Democrat \"a corrupt person, a terrible person. Driving people out of New York.\"He was equally unsparing of the judge, Arthur Engoron, calling him a partisan Democrat who is using the case to interfere with the 2024 presidential election, where Trump holds a big lead for the Republican nomination.“This is a judge that should be disbarred. This is a judge that should be out of office,” said Trump whose election campaign used the start of the trial for fundraising, as per Reuters reports.
The case concerns accusations by the attorney general that Trump inflated his assets and his own net worth from 2011 to 2021 to obtain favorable bank loans and lower insurance premiums.James has accused Trump of materially overvaluing assets including his Trump Tower penthouse apartment in Manhattan, his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and various office towers and golf clubs, and inflated his own fortune by as much as $2.2 billion.Kevin Wallace, a lawyer from James' office said, \"This isn't business as usual, and this isn't how sophisticated parties deal with each other. These are not victimless crimes.\"Christopher Kise, a lawyer for Trump, countered in his opening statement that Trump's financials were entirely legal.“He has made a fortune literally being right about real estate investments. There was no intent to defraud, there was no illegality, there was no default, there was no breach, there was no reliance from the banks, there were no unjust profits, and there were no victims,” Kise said.
Alina Habba, another lawyer, separately told Engoron that Trump's assets were \"Mona Lisa properties\" that could fetch premium prices if Trump sold them.Last week, the judge found Trump, his adult sons, and 10 of his companies liable for fraud, describing in scathing terms how the defendants made up valuations.He said these included valuing the Trump Tower apartment as if it were three times its actual size and worth $327 million, and estimating that Mar-a-Lago was worth up to $739 million though its assessed value was no more than $28 million.The judge canceled business certificates for companies controlling pillars of Trump's empire and said he would appoint receivers to oversee their dissolution.
(With Reuters inputs)
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