Verdict Looms: Will Trump’s Fraud Trial Kill the Trump Organization?

25 December 2023

Manhattan judge set to deliver a verdict in Trump civil-fraud trial, potentially dissolving the Trump Organization.

A Manhattan judge is expected to reach a verdict in the Trump civil-fraud trial by the end of January. The trial, which has lasted over 10 weeks, has seen damning evidence presented against former President Donald Trump and his business empire. Experts predict that the verdict, if unfavorable to Trump, could result in the dissolution of the Trump Organization, potentially dealing a fatal blow to his real estate and golf resort empire.

The Judge’s Scorn and Trump’s Fraudulent History

Three months after the trial began, the judge, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, appears increasingly convinced of Trump’s fraud. In a mid-December decision, Engoron described the state attorney general’s evidence of wrongdoing as “voluminous.” He also criticized Trump’s accounting witness, stating that “some experts will say whatever you want them to say” for the right price.

The Corporate Death Penalty

Legal experts believe that Engoron has already declared the corporate death penalty for the Trump Organization. If the judge upholds this penalty in his verdict, it could spell the end for Trump’s business empire. Dissolution, however, would be a lengthy process, with years of appeals likely to follow.

Dissolution: How Would It Work?

Dissolving the Trump Organization would involve canceling the New York “GBL 130 certificates” held by the company. These certificates are essential for conducting legal business in the state. The cancellation of these certificates would prevent Trump’s properties from buying or selling, borrowing money, collecting rents, or entering into contracts. The dissolution would also involve the appointment of a receiver to manage the sale of the Trump properties that lost their certificates.

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Letitia James’ Request and Engoron’s Ruling

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed the lawsuit against Trump, initially requested the cancellation of the Trump Organization’s certificates as part of her proposed fraud punishments. However, Engoron’s September ruling went beyond James’ request and ordered the appointment of a receiver to manage the dissolution of the canceled LLCs. James has expressed her desire for the Trump Organization to be subjected to five years of audits and monitoring, along with certain bans and restrictions.

The Potential Fallout and Questions

If Engoron’s ruling survives and dissolution occurs, the entire Trump Organization, including its estimated $2.6 billion in assets, could be liquidated. However, there are still questions about which properties would be sold and how the process would affect co-owners, partners, and other stakeholders. Engoron himself has acknowledged the need for more clarity on these matters and has ordered Trump Organization officials to work with an independent monitor to find answers.

Trump’s Houdini Moves and Potential Challenges

While Trump may attempt to find legal loopholes or engage in corporate restructuring, legal experts believe that such maneuvers would not save him from the consequences of the trial. Engoron has already rejected Trump’s attempts to avoid the lawsuit and dissolve the Trump Organization. Trump’s best chance to escape the corporate death penalty remains through an appeal, although the odds are against him.

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Penalties and Consequences

Aside from dissolution, the verdict may also impose significant financial penalties on Trump. The state’s trial evidence suggests that the attorney general will seek over $250 million in penalties, plus interest, representing the ill-gotten gains from a decade of fraudulent activities. Additionally, Trump and his sons may face permanent bans from running a New York business, further impacting their future prospects.

Conclusion: The verdict in the Trump civil-fraud trial is imminent, and the potential consequences for the Trump Organization are severe. If the judge upholds the corporate death penalty and dissolves the organization, it could mark a significant blow to Trump’s real estate and golf resort empire. The trial’s outcome will not only impact Trump’s business but also serve as a landmark case highlighting the consequences of fraudulent practices in the corporate world.

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