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Donald Trump’s $454 million civil fraud judgment high quality slashed to $175M by New York appeals court docket

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves a pre-trial listening to on costs stemming from hush cash paid to a porn star, throughout a recess, together with his protection group, in New York City, U.S., March 25, 2024.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

A New York appeals court docket on March 25 agreed to carry off assortment of former President Donald Trump’s $454 million civil fraud judgment — if he places up $175 million inside 10 days.

If he does, it is going to cease the clock on assortment and stop the State from seizing the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee’s property whereas he appeals.

The improvement got here simply earlier than New York Attorney General Letitia James was anticipated to provoke efforts to gather the judgment.

Messages in search of remark had been despatched to Ms. James’ workplace and to Mr. Trump’s attorneys.

Mr. Trump’s attorneys had pleaded for a State appeals court docket to halt assortment, claiming it was “a practical impossibility” to get an underwriter to log off on a bond for such a big sum.

The ruling was issued by the State’s intermediate appeals court docket, the Appellate Division of the state’s trial court docket, the place Mr. Trump is preventing to overturn a choose’s Feb. 16 discovering that he lied about his wealth as he grew the true property empire that launched him to stardom and the Presidency.

Also Read | Donald Trump attends court docket, calls New York fraud trial a ‘scam’

After Ms. James received the judgment, she did not search to implement it throughout a authorized time-out for Mr. Trump to ask the appeals court docket for a reprieve from paying up.

That interval ended on March 25, although Ms. James may have determined to permit Trump extra time.

Ms. James, a Democrat, informed ABC News final month that if Mr. Trump does not have the cash to pay, she would search to grab his property and was “prepared to make sure that the judgment is paid.”

She didn’t detail the process or specify what holdings she meant, and her office has declined more recently to discuss its plans. Meanwhile, it has filed notice of the judgment, a technical step toward potentially moving to collect.

As Mr. Trump arrived on March 25 at a different New York court for a separate hearing in his criminal hush money case, he didn’t respond to a journalist’s question about whether he’d obtained a bond. Earlier on March 25, he railed in social media posts against the civil judgment and the possibility that James would seek to enforce it.

Casting the case as a plot by Democrats, the ex-President asserted that they were trying to take his cash to starve his 2024 campaign.

“I had intended to use much of that hard earned money on running for President. They don’t want me to do that — ELECTION INTERFERENCE!” he wrote on his Truth Social platform. Referring to his properties as “my ‘babies,’” he bristled at the idea of being forced to sell them or seeing them seized.

Seizing assets is a common legal option when someone doesn’t have the cash to pay a civil court penalty. In Mr. Trump’s case, potential targets could include such properties as his Trump Tower penthouse, aircraft, Wall Street office building or golf courses.

The Attorney General also could go after his bank and investment accounts. Mr. Trump maintained on social media on Friday that he has almost $500 million in cash but intends to use much of it on his Presidential run. He has accused Ms. James and New York State Judge Arthur Engoron, who’s also a Democrat, of seeking “to take the cash away so I can’t use it on the campaign.”

One possibility would be for Ms. James’ office to go through a legal process to have local law enforcement seize properties, then seek to sell them off. But that’s a complicated prospect in Mr. Trump’s case, noted Stewart Sterk, a real estate law professor at Cardozo School of Law.

“Finding buyers for assets of this magnitude is something that doesn’t happen overnight,” he said, noting that at any ordinary auction, “the chances that people are going to be able to bid up to the true value of the property is pretty slim.”

Mr. Trump’s debt stems from a months-long civil trial last fall over the state’s allegations that he, his company and top executives vastly puffed up his wealth on financial statements, conning bankers and insurers who did business with him. The statements valued his penthouse for years as though it were nearly three times its actual size, for example.

Mr. Trump and his co-defendants denied any wrongdoing, saying the statements actually lowballed his fortune, came with disclaimers and weren’t taken at face value by the institutions that lent to or insured him. The penthouse discrepancy, he said, was simply a mistake made by subordinates.

Also Read | Donald Trump answerable for $355 million, choose in New York civil fraud case guidelines

Engoron sided with the Attorney General and ordered Mr. Trump to pay $355 million, plus curiosity that grows each day. Some co-defendants, together with his sons and firm govt vice presidents, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, had been ordered to pay far smaller quantities.

Under New York legislation, submitting an enchantment usually does not maintain off enforcement of a judgment. But there’s an computerized pause if the particular person or entity posts a bond that covers what’s owed.

The ex-President’s attorneys have stated it is unimaginable for him to do this. They stated underwriters needed 120% of the judgment and would not settle for actual property as collateral. That would imply tying up over $557 million in money, shares and different liquid property, and Trump’s firm wants some left over to run the enterprise, his attorneys have stated.

Mr. Trump’s attorneys have requested an appeals court docket to freeze assortment with out his posting a bond. The Attorney General’s workplace has objected.

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